Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
About the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP)
RCEP is a regional free trade agreement that will complement and build upon Australia's existing free trade agreements with 14 other Indo-Pacific countries.
RCEP entered into force on 1 January 2022, for ten countries, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, with Australia as an original party. RCEP entered into force for the Republic of Korea on 1 February 2022 and for Malaysia on 18 March 2022.
It is a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, and creates new rules for electronic commerce, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and small and medium sized enterprises.
RCEP negotiations were launched in November 2012 between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and ASEAN's free trade agreement partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea).
On 15 November 2020, Ministers from 15 countries signed the Agreement.
India indicated in November 2019 that there were several issues preventing it from joining RCEP and has since confirmed it is not in a position to sign the Agreement: Joint Leaders' Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Even without India, RCEP will still be the world's largest free trade agreement.
On 15 November 2020, Leaders endorsed the Ministerial Declaration on India's participation in RCEP.
- Media release on signature of RCEP (15 November 2020): Regional trade deal to boost export opportunities for Aussie farmers and businesses.
For more information on the agreed RCEP outcomes, refer to FTA outcome documents.
Progress towards RCEP's entry into force
RCEP has been ratified (or equivalent) by Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Agreement provides that it will enter into force 60 days after at least six ASEAN Member States and at least three non-ASEAN Member States have ratified it.
RCEP entered into force on 1 January 2022, 60 days after its ratification by Australia on 2 November 2021.
Australian ratification of RCEP
Australia deposited its instrument of ratification of RCEP with the RCEP depositary, the ASEAN Secretary‑General, on 2 November 2021.
This followed the completion of Australia's domestic treaty-making procedures:
- the RCEP Agreement and the RCEP National Interest Analysis were tabled in the Australian Parliament on 18 March 2021
- the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) tabled its report of its inquiry into RCEP, recommending that binding treaty action be taken on 31 August 2021
- RCEP implementing legislation was introduced on 1 September 2021, passed by the House of Representatives on 20 October 2021 and by the Senate on 21 October 2021, and received Royal Assent on 25 October 2021.
- The Federal Executive Council approved RCEP-related regulations, and Australia's ratification of RCEP, on 28 October 2021.
- The Government Response to the JSCOT report on RCEP was tabled on 17 February 2022.
Ministers from 15 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) on 15 November 2020, and RCEP will enter into force on 1 January 2022. News and updated information is posted on this page.
- Joint Media Release: Australia to become an original party to the world's largest free trade agreement, 2 November 2021
- Media release on Australian ratification of RCEP (2 November 2021)
- Media Release: RCEP implementing legislation passes Parliament, 21 October 2021
- RCEP implementing legislation: Second Reading Speeches to Parliament, 1 September 2021
- Statement to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' Inquiry into RCEP, 2 August 2021
- Statement to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' Inquiry into RCEP, 10 May 2021
- Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) inquiry into the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 18 March 2021)