China’s attempt to convince Asean countries to support the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) reflects the country’s aim to become the real economic leader of Asia Pacific and keep the United States at bay, say experts.
While Beijing drums up support for the 16-country RCEP (Asean plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand), Washington is making its case for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Both countries went all-out at the Asean and East Asia Summit meetings last month in Phnom Penh, with newly re-elected President Barack Obama talking up the TPP with individual leaders. However, the RCEP now has some real momentum following its formal endorsement by the leaders of the 16 countries involved. They hope to start negotiations in 2013 and finish by 2015. A successful outcome would lead to the creation of the world’s largest regional trading bloc.
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