The RCEP Trade Agreement: What Every UPSC Aspirant Should Know

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a trade agreement that was signed on November 15, 2020, after eight years of negotiations between 15 Asia-Pacific countries. This trade agreement is designed to facilitate economic cooperation and integration among member countries by reducing trade barriers and promoting investment in the region.

As an aspiring UPSC candidate, it is important to understand the implications of this agreement for India and the region as a whole. Here`s a breakdown of what you need to know:

1. The RCEP is the world`s largest free trade agreement: The RCEP is the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering a population of 2.2 billion people and accounting for 30% of the global GDP. The agreement includes 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their five free trade agreement partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea).

2. India withdrew from the agreement: In November 2019, India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations citing concerns over the impact the agreement would have on its domestic industries. India`s concerns included the possibility of a surge in imports from China and other countries, which would have impacted domestic producers and manufacturers.

3. The agreement will promote economic integration in the region: The RCEP is expected to promote economic integration in the region by lowering trade barriers, supporting investment and technology transfer, and promoting economic growth and productivity. This could lead to increased job opportunities, improved access to goods and services, and greater economic cooperation among member countries.

4. There are concerns over the impact of the agreement on India: India`s decision to withdraw from the RCEP has raised concerns over its ability to compete in the region and the potential loss of economic opportunities. Some experts believe that India`s withdrawal could also lead to increased economic influence by China in the region.

5. The agreement could have implications for India`s foreign policy: The RCEP could have implications for India`s foreign policy and strategic interests in the region. The agreement could impact India`s relations with key partners such as the United States and Japan, who are not part of the RCEP.

In conclusion, the RCEP is a significant trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region that has the potential to promote economic growth and integration. As an aspiring UPSC candidate, it is important to stay informed about the developments in the region and the potential implications of the agreement for India and its foreign policy.