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RCEP solidifies China as center of Asia’s trade

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), described as “a coup for China” by France 24, ratifies a grand realignment of Asian economies around China’s import market.

Exports to China from the rest of Asia rose by 260% between 2016 and 2021, the biggest margin of trade expansion in any major market. Asia’s recovery from the pandemic recession and its prospects for future growth depend increasingly on China.

China’s willingness and capacity to absorb imports from other Asian countries presented its Asian neighbors with an offer they couldn’t refuse. Import tariffs within the 15-nation trading bloc will fall by 90% over time under the RCEP, giving the other Asian economies more access to China’s market.