RCEP to boost Asia in 2022
Asia will be confirmed in 2022 as one of the most dynamic and solid regions from the economic point of view, increasing the importance of the region at global level. In the last decade, thanks to Beijing's role in trade and multilateral bodies, the center of gravity of the world has increasingly shifted towards the East. This has been made possible by various projects that have intensified relations between countries in the area, such as the Belt and Road project promoted by China, and the negotiations that led to the signing of the largest free trade agreement in the world, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will come into force on January 1, 2022.
The RCEP is an economic and trade agreement between the major economies of the Asia Pacific region, and includes the ten members of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The agreement was initialed in 2019 after nine years of intense negotiation and bargaining, and will come into effect on January 1, 2022, for members who ratified the agreement during 2020, including China. The main benefit that the RCEP will provide to its members will be greater and freer access to the markets of major Asia-Pacific countries, with the goal of eliminating barriers to entry and more than 95 percent of the tariffs that currently apply.
For China, the RCEP certainly represents an opportunity to further strengthen relations, also from a diplomatic point of view, with its neighbors. Notwithstanding the promotion of the concept of dual circulation and the stimulation of domestic demand, the Chinese government is well aware of the importance of trade with other countries in regional relations.
According to data released by Chinese customs for the first ten months of 2021, the 14 member partners of the free trade agreement represent more than 31% of the 4,892 billion dollars of trade recorded by China. It should also be noted that, unlike the United States and the European Union, RCEP members are, at an aggregate level, net exporters to China: the trade deficit that China recorded with RCEP partners in the first ten months of 2021 is, in fact, over 112 billion dollars (compared to 321 and 161 billion dollars of surplus against the United States and the European Union respectively).