How China won and US lost the trade war

SINGAPORE – Signed and sealed in a video conference ceremony after nearly eight years of grueling negotiations, the world’s largest free trade bloc was forged on November 15 in a show of collective defiance against protectionism that sets the stage for China to supplant the United States as the Asia-Pacific’s main trade engine.

Proclaimed as a win for the multilateral trading system, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) harmonizes regulatory standards and allows member countries to offer themselves as an integrated market for investment, providing a confidence boost to aid a regionwide post-pandemic recovery.

Apart from the promised benefits of trade liberalization, the RCEP has been acknowledged more for its symbolic significance in relation to the world’s two largest economies, only one of which is a signatory to the deal. China’s inclusion in the pact will expand its economic reach and arguably help to solidify its position as a standard-bearer for globalization.