Home About Archives RSS Feed

The Retired Investor: The Rise of RCEP

By Bill SchmickiBerkshires columnist
The Regional Comprehensive Economics Partnership (RCEP) is a trade pact that could change the global trade equation over the next decade. It is an example of multilateralism and free trade that could leave the United States in the dust. 
The 15 nations that comprise RCEP represent about one third of the world' s population (2.2 billion people), and 29 percent of global gross domestic product. The partnership is made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The RCEP is officially the world's largest trading bloc.
What makes this trade deal noteworthy, apart from its size, is the inclusion of China. In the past, China, while signing numerous bilateral trade agreements, has refrained from joining a multilateral trade pact — until now. Getting there required eight years of negotiations. The deal could have been even larger, if India, which had been part of the negotiations, had signed. 
Since the agreement is expected to eliminate tariffs on a wide range of imports throughout the next 20 years, India was worried that lower tariffs could hurt some of their more inefficient producers. Nonetheless, RCEP members are extending an open invitation to India in the event that it changes its mind.
Most of the member countries already have free-trade agreements with each other. What makes RCEP unique is that it defines new rules of origin on imported products among members. Before this deal, if a product happened to have parts made by a country that was outside of a free-trade agreement between two countries, then those parts would likely be subject to tariffs. Imagine, for example, if a Chinese-made automobile exported to Indonesia had several parts manufactured from countries that were not part of a free-trade agreement between China and Indonesia. Indonesia would be able to levy tariffs on all those non-exempt parts, which can get really complicated. The RCEP eliminates that issue.
If you are an RCEP member, as long as the product parts are made by another RCEP-member nation, the product will receive the same tariff treatment. The hidden benefit here is that now the RCEP trade bloc will be incentivized to look within their trade group for suppliers. 
The Peterson Institute for International Economics believes the trade pact could generate as much as $186 billion yearly over the next decade and tack on 0.2 percent in growth to the GDP of each member state. Some economists believe that the North Asian countries — China, Japan, and South Korea — could benefit the most from RCEP. However, it will take some time before all the member states ratify the agreement. In some countries that suffer from anti-free trade or anti-China sentiment, ratification of the pact may take time.
The agreement is bigger than both the U.S. North Atlantic trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, as well as the European Union's trade pact. In contrast, for the last four years the U.S., under the direction of our president, has largely retreated from inking large multinational trade deals. In fact, we have done just the opposite by raising tariffs, while pursuing a policy of isolationism. I am not sure that a new president, regardless of party, could alter this trade trend. I don't know what it would take to convince a divided American populace that there will be far-reaching consequences of our actions.
America's withdrawal from free trade has left a void, which other nations (especially China) are all too happy to fill. We pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, which was an even broader agreement than the RCEP, largely because of what the nation perceived was China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. We continue to isolate when even our trading partners like the European Union understand that, in a world ravaged by the coronavirus, new trade agreements (not less) are vitally important to economic recovery. 
But the U.S. seems intent on fighting the pandemic battle alone, while scrambling for ways to rebuild the economy amid a crumbling national infrastructure, without going into more debt. In a nation divided, where more than half the country cannot even agree on the winner of a presidential election (let alone the presence of COVID-19 among us), do we really have the resources necessary to go it alone on the world trade front?  
Bill's forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at bill@schmicksretiredinvestor.com.
Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.

Support Local News

We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.

How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.

News Headlines
MassWildlife Asks Public Not to Feed 'GE Deer'
Williamstown Employees Resign After Complaint; Board Member Leaving
Methuselah Loses License for Two Days
Up to 6 Inches of Snow Predicted for Berkshires
State Moves Residents 65-and-Older Ahead in Vaccination Line
Great Barrington's New Police Chief to Participate In 'Virtual Coffee'
BHS and PCTV to Present Live Program on COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment
Pittsfield Police Arrest Suspect in Pittsfield-Lenox Robbery Spree
Greylock Insurance Agency Acquires Butler Agency in Westfield
Zogics Using COVID-19 Fighting Fans To Keep Staff Healthy

@theMarket (355)
Independent Investor (450)
Retired Investor (27)
January 2021 (3)
January 2020 (2)
December 2020 (6)
November 2020 (8)
October 2020 (7)
September 2020 (6)
August 2020 (6)
July 2020 (10)
June 2020 (7)
May 2020 (9)
April 2020 (9)
March 2020 (5)
February 2020 (7)
Euro Interest Rates Jobs Bailout Currency Debt Stimulus Japan Wall Street Markets Crisis Housing Commodities Federal Reserve Taxes Stock Market Congress Energy Economy Rally Retirement Election Recession Stocks Pullback Europe Fiscal Cliff Greece Oil Debt Ceiling Banks Selloff Metals Deficit Europe
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
@theMarket: QE II Supports the Markets
The Independent Investor: Understanding the Foreclosure Scandal
The Independent Investor: Does Cash Mean Currencies?
@theMarket: Markets Are Going Higher
The Independent Investor: General Motors — Back to the Future
The Independent Investor: How Will Wall Street II Play on Main Street?
@theMarket: Economy Sputters, Stocks Stutter
The Independent Investor: Why Are Interest Rates Rising?
The Independent Investor: Will the Municipal Bond Massacre Continue?
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: Equities Register New Highs, Until They Don't
The Retired Investor: The Reflation Trade
The Retired Investor: Asia: The Investment Case
The Retired Investor: Where Have All the Christmas Trees Gone?
The Retired Investor: Oil's Comeback
@theMarket: Same Old Stimulus Song
The Retired Investor: Markets Ignore China Sanctions
@theMarket: Markets Bet on Stimulus Sweepstakes
The Retired Investor: Bitcoin Is Back
@theMarket: Market Cyclicals Take the Lead