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Asia’s RCEP a reminder that trade goes on despite the pandemic

Trade deal brings together 15 Asian nations; banks jostle to benefit.

Vietnam's prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the fourth RCEP summit

It is easy to forget, in this age of closed borders, geopolitical tensions and empty airports, that a landmark trade agreement was signed in November.

The regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) brings together 15 Asian nations covering 30% of the world’s GDP and 27% of global trade.

It also marks the first time that China, Japan and South Korea have been part of the same trade deal; India’s not in it, for fear that its industries would be hammered by cheap Chinese exports, but it is welcome to join.

There are echoes with the previous proposed agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in 2016, coinciding as it does with a US election.

The first thing president Trump did upon taking power was to pull the US out of the TPP, but trade deals have simply gone on without the US – and with China. That’s geopolitics.


So, what does it mean for the banks?

RCEP was clearly in the background when Singapore’s UOB announced a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency on Friday.


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