Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed "free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the "Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ("Brunei, "Cambodia, "Indonesia, "Laos, "Malaysia, "Myanmar, the "Philippines, "Singapore, "Thailand, "Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements ("Australia, "China, "India, "Japan, "South Korea and "New Zealand).
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the "Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.
In 2016, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total "Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.4 trillion, approximately 30 percent of the world's GDP.
RCEP potentially includes more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world's population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 percent of world trade. The combined GDP of potential RCEP members surpassed the combined GDP of "Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in 2007. Continued growth, particularly in "China, "India and "Indonesia could see total GDP in RCEP grow to over $100 trillion by 2050, roughly double the project size of TPP economies.
On January 23, 2017, "US President Trump signed a memorandum that stated withdrawal of the US from the TPP, a move which is seen to improve the chances of success for RCEP.
At the launch of negotiations on Tuesday, 20 November 2012, the leaders of each relevant country endorsed the "Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership." The key points of this document are as follows.
RCEP will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical co-operation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues.
The RCEP will have broader and deeper engagement with significant improvements over the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, while recognising the individual and diverse circumstances of the participating countries.
Negotiations should aim to achieve the high level of tariff liberalisation, through building upon the existing liberalisation levels between participating countries.
The RCEP will be comprehensive, of high-quality and consistent with "WTO rules and all service sectors will be subject to negotiations.
Negotiations will cover the four pillars of promotion, protection, facilitation and liberalisation.
Participants will be ASEAN members and FTA Partners. After the completion of the negotiations, countries other than the 16 states may join.
Some delegations made presentations on other issues that are of particular interest to some RCEP participating countries.
Round 4 The 4th round of RCEP negotiations took place in Nanning, China 31 March – 4 April 2014. The participating countries continued intensive discussion on a range of issues to advance the negotiations.
Participating countries engaged on the development of trade in goods texts, intensified consideration of modalities to be used for tariff negotiations and continued discussions on non-tariff measures, Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures (STRACAP), Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) as well as on Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation (CPTF) and Rules of Origin (ROO).
On Trade in services, participating countries deliberated on the elements of text, the scope of provisions, the approach to scheduling market access commitments, market access commitments, and a number of other specific issues. On Investment, participating countries engaged in discussions on text, and an in-depth discussion on the elements including investment modalities.
At the Nanning meeting, the new working groups on Intellectual Property, Competition, and Economic and Technical Cooperation commenced their work. Other issues of particular interest to a number of RCEP participating countries were discussed. Experts met to discuss Dispute Settlement and broader legal and institutional issues. A formal working group will be established to continue these discussions at the next meeting.
The 5th RCEP negotiation round was held on 21–27 June 2014 in Singapore.
The 6th round of RCEP Trade Negotiation Committee(TNC) and related meetings took place 1–5 December 2014 in New Delhi, India The Indians held an outreach event with their business community to educate them on the goals of RCEP. The Japanese asked to set up a workshop on e-Commerce.
The 7th round of RCEP meetings took place in Bangkok, Thailand 9–13 February 2015. An expert group on electronic commerce met during this round. The Asian Trade Centre (based in Singapore) submitted a proposal regarding an e-Commerce chapter and gave a presentation on the paper.
The 8th round of the RCEP talks took place in Kyoto, Japan 5–13 June.
The 9th round of the RCEP talks took place in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar 3–7 August 2015
The 10th round of the RCEP talks took place in Busan, South Korea in 12–16 October 2015. The meetings took place at BEXCO (Busan's Convention and Exhibition Centre). This round included the first region wide stakeholder meeting (organized by the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre) which involved an informal meeting between government officials and business representatives over lunch followed by an afternoon seminar focused on what RCEP can do to help business operate in the e-Commerce space.
On February 14–19, the 11th round of negotiations of the RCEP was held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. This round of negotiation consisted of four group sessions: the first conference and trade in goods, service trade, investment, and rules for the country of origin. The conference focused on promoting the market access negotiation and the textual discussion, involving these 3 core fields: goods, service and investment. The conference was guided by the leader's instruction to strive to conclude the negotiations in 2016. It has preliminarily defined the negotiation plan of 2016. Representatives from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, the ASEAN ten countries and the ASEAN Secretariat attended this round of negotiation.
On April 17–29, the 12th round of negotiation of RCEP was held in Perth, Australia. Delegations of 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, ROK, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Secretariat of ASEAN attended the meeting. All the parties had in-depth discussion on goods, service, investment, intellectual property, economic and technological cooperation, e-commerce and articles of law. The negotiation has gained positive progress.
China is said to have triggered a sudden impasse in the recent trade negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in New Zealand. It led to some nations, particularly those belonging to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), pushing for dismantling of the three-tier system followed in the initial round of offers for goods liberalisation.
As part of India's current three-tier approach to tariff reduction, the Asean countries are being offered 80 per cent tariff liberalisation. Of this, 65 per cent elimination of tariff will come into force immediately after the agreement is implemented. Another 15 per cent tariff elimination will happen over a period of 10 years. In the second tier, India has offered 65 per cent tariff elimination to South Korea and Japan, with whom it has free trade agreements (FTAs). These two countries offered 80 per cent tariff elimination to India. In third tier, India has proposed 42.5 per cent reduction in tariff lines to China, Australia and New Zealand. These countries will offer India 42.5 per cent, 80 per cent and 65 per cent tariff lines reductions, respectively.
The 14th round of RCEP negotiation was held on August 15–18 in Vietnam.
The 15th round of RCEP negotiation was held on October 11–22 in Tianjin, China. 
The RCEP takes into account the East Asia Free Trade Agreement (EAFTA) and the "Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) initiatives, with the difference that the RCEP is not working on a pre-determined membership. Instead, it is based on open accession which enables participation of any of the ASEAN FTA partners (China, Korea, Japan, India and Australia-New Zealand) at the outset or later when they are ready to join. The arrangement is also open to any other external economic partners, such as nations in Central Asia and remaining nations in South Asia and Oceania.
Along with the "Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the RCEP is a possible pathway to a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, and a contribution to building momentum for global trade reform. Both the RCEP and TPP are ambitious FTAs and will involve complex negotiations as it involves multiple parties and sectors. The TPP and RCEP are potentially mutually-reinforcing parallel tracks for regional integration, which could ultimately lead to a "Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. The United States withdrew from the TPP in January 2017, preventing it from being ratified.
The arrangement is also open to any other external economic partners, such as nations in Central Asia and remaining nations in South Asia and Oceania.
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RCEP has been criticized by "free culture activists for containing "quite simply the worst provisions on copyright [...] ever seen in a trade agreement." Global health care activists have criticized the agreement for potentially forcing India to end its cheap supply of "generic medications to poor countries.