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. 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, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and ASEAN’s free trade agreement partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea).
On 15 November 2020, Ministers from 15 countries signed the Agreement. In November 2019, India indicated it had several issues preventing it from joining RCEP and has since indicated 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 also endorsed the Ministerial Declaration on India’s participation in RCEP.
Australia is working towards ratification of the RCEP Agreement in late 2021.
For more information on the agreed RCEP outcomes, refer to FTA outcome documents.
What happens next?
Further steps taken with regard to the ratification of RCEP are being undertaken in a manner consistent with Australian treaty-making procedures.
These steps include tabling of the Agreement in the Australian Parliament, which happened on 18 March 2021. They also include consideration of RCEP by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). JSCOT has concluded its inquiry into RCEP, and has recommended that the Australian Government ratify RCEP.
The next step involves the passage of implementing legislation. That legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on 1 September 2021.
The RCEP Agreement will enter into force 60 days after six ASEAN Member States and three non-ASEAN Member States have ratified the Agreement.