World Largest Trade Deal RCEP being Signed- Concerns of Bangladesh

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Special Correspondent

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) participating countries (RPCs) have concluded negotiations on the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA), paving the way for the signing of the long-awaited trade deal on 15 Nov. 15 Asian nations led by China are expected to sign the world’s largest free trade agreement. RCEP is expected to surpass the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in both size and value.

RCEP will have a potential market of 2.2 billion with a combined GDP of $26.2 trillion, making it the biggest by market size. The trade agreement will also include the Oceanic countries like Australia and New Zealand. The agreement aims to reduce tariffs and improve supply chains between the Asian nations and strengthen supply chains with common rules of origin, and codify new e-commerce rules. Its passage may disadvantage some U.S. companies and other multinationals outside the zone, particularly after President Donald Trump withdrew from talks on a separate Asia-Pacific trade deal formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The deal is the culmination of Beijing’s decade-long quest for greater economic integration with a region that encompasses nearly a third of the global gross domestic product. And the impact may extend beyond the region. India withdrew from negotiations in 2019. Following the withdrawal of India from RCEP negotiations last year, the remaining 15 nations sought to announce the agreement on Sunday during the ASEAN Summit, which Vietnam is hosting virtually.

Concerns of Bangladesh

RCEP is going to be a free trade agreement like SAFTA, but its diversity is enormous. Although India is not joining RCEP, China, Myanmar, other ASEAN countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are the signatories of it. Bangladesh needs to formulate appropriate trade and export strategies considering this aspect. There are strong competitors like Vietnam in RCEP. Although Japan and Australia are the part of U.S. led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad), these economic developed countries also have become part of RCEP due to its attractive potentialities.

RCEP is likely to immensely benefit Myanmar. Bangladesh is the worst sufferer on Rohingya influx. Myanmar’s involvement in RCEP might create some new supporting base for them that might form the legitimate demand of Bangladesh feeble. In last few years, there are significant development of Myanmar in the economic aspects. Continuation of this state might influence them to get their army more equipped with modern military weaponries.

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