BEIJING (REUTERS) - China is encouraging the early implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and members of the Asia-Pacific trade pact are aiming for it to take effect from Jan 1, 2022, China's Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Thursday (March 25).
China began gathering support for the pact in 2012, in what was seen as a bid to counter growing United States influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Backing for RCEP gained momentum in 2017, after then US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the rival Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.
Last November, fifteen Asia-Pacific economies, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 members of Asean, formed the world's largest free trade bloc, covering nearly a third of the global population and about 30 per cent of its global gross domestic product.
"China has taken the lead in ratifying the RCEP, underscoring the great importance and full support from the Chinese government for the early implementation of the deal," Mr Wang told a news conference.
RCEP must be ratified by at least six Asean countries and three non-Asean countries before it can come into effect.