India has participated in previous rounds of negotiations, but withdrew in 2019, fearing that low import barriers could harm vulnerable domestic industries such as agriculture, milk and textiles. Regional observers have found that the country – and its market of nearly 1.4 billion people – has the door open to join the agreement in the future. The RCEP agreement covers 20 chapters on trade in goods and services, investment, temporary transport of individuals, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, trade measures, intellectual property, competition, public procurement and institutional provisions. These disciplines will promote intra-regional trade between participating countries and may encourage the reorganization of supply chains for companies with significant activities in these markets. Australia hopes the trade deal will improve relations with China, its largest trading partner. The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), formerly the Bangkok Agreement, is a preferential tariff regime that aims to promote intra-regional trade by exchanging concessions agreed by member states. Its current members are Bangladesh, China, India, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People`s Republic and Sri Lanka. Mongolia has concluded bilateral negotiations on tariff concessions and is expected to become the seventh member. ASEAN leaders said they intend to continue expanding trade with India and that the door remains open in New Delhi to join the bloc. The conflict escalated into a trade dispute that affected a dozen Australian industries and threatened billions of dollars worth of exports of agricultural products, wood and resources to China.
However, it sets rules for trade that facilitate investment and other business in the area, said Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Center. The fourth round, launched in October 2007, was to be closed by the Third Council of Ministers in October 2009. The objective of this round is to extend preference coverage to at least 50% of the number of customs positions of each member and to at least 20 to 25% of the value of bilateral trade. In addition, a customs concession of at least 50% (on average) will be introduced. From a geopolitical point of view, this is the second major multilateral trade agreement in Asia-Pacific, marked by the absence of the United States after its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (now CPTPP) in January 2017. Regional experts described the RCEP agreement as another example of China`s growing economic and trade influence in Southeast Asia, amid a perceived U.S. withdrawal. Businesses operating in the region can therefore find a business landscape that is slowly adapting more to RCEP`s provisions. Chinese President Xi is opening up to other trade agreements and importing market access provisions and common rules of origin, such as reducing costs for producers who manufacture goods in one RCEP country for export to another member state. This includes, of course, duty-free or reduced-price treatment within the regional bloc for many of those produced in China and ASEAN.