Asia forms world’s biggest trade bloc, and the US isn’t welcome

World

Asia forms world’s biggest trade bloc, and the US isn’t welcome

The deal puts China in a better position to shape the area’s trade rules and cut its dependence on other markets

Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen

Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies formed the world’s largest free trade bloc on Sunday, a China-backed deal that excludes the US, which had left a rival Asia-Pacific grouping under President Donald Trump.

The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at a regional summit in Hanoi is a further blow to the group pushed by former US president Barack Obama, which his successor Trump exited in 2017.

Amid questions about Washington’s engagement in Asia, RCEP may cement China’s position more firmly as an economic partner with Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea, putting the world’s second-biggest economy in a better position to shape the region’s trade rules...

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