Donald Trump’s presidency was less than 100 hours old when he sat down in the Oval Office, signed an executive order and made China very happy. The order instructed United States officials to withdraw forever from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a giant free trade area that would have spanned the world’s biggest ocean, covering Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
With a stroke of his pen, Trump wiped out 10 years of work on the so-called “Pacific” route to regional trade integration, anchored on the US market. At the same time, he effectively revitalised a separate “Asian” track, centred on China, in the form of another proposed trade area: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
RCEP builds on existing trade deals between the 10 countries in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) and six of their more or less distant neighbours: Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. Click here to read more.