Asia-Pacific nations sign world's biggest free-trade agreement

Asia-Pacific nations sign world's biggest free-trade agreement

Fifteen nations in the Asia-Pacific region have entered into the world's largest free-trade agreement, which they hope will accelerate the recovery of their economies, ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, DW reports.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was signed on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), held via videoconference due to the pandemic.

The virtual summit was hosted by Vietnam which held the rotating chair position in the run-up to the event.

The RCEP deal, signed eight years after negotiations first began, covers 2.2 billion people and a third of the world's economy. It had previously been expected that the deal would be signed in early 2020.

The pact lowers tariffs, opens up the service sector and sets common trade rules within the bloc. The agreement covers trade, services, investment, e-commerce, telecommunications and copyright.

However, environmental protection and labor rights are not part of the deal.