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China, 14 Asian partners sign world’s biggest trade pact

China and 14 other countries on Sunday signed a sprawling Asian trade deal seen as a huge coup for Beijing in extending its influence.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – which includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia – is the world’s largest trade pact in terms of GDP, analysts say.

First proposed in 2012, the deal was sealed on the sidelines of the Asean annual summit as leaders push to get their pandemic-hit economies back on track.

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