Market News & Headlines >> Asian Trade Pact Announced

China joined 14 other countries on Monday in agreeing on terms for what could be the world's largest trade pact, but India backed out at the last minute, saying the deal did not address its "outstanding issues and concerns." 

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is the result of seven years of negotiations. 

Members said in a statement that the deal would be signed next year after the 15 countries without India reached agreement in Bangkok on the text and market access issues. "Against the backdrop of a fast-changing global environment, the completion of the RCEP negotiations will demonstrate our collective commitment to an open trade and investment environment across the region," the countries said. 

They left the door open to India potentially joining them later, if the issues it has with the deal are resolved. India’s concerns with the deal largely center on market access, with New Delhi seeking protective measures to prevent a potential flood of cheap imports, mostly from China, into the Indian market. 

Even without India, the countries in the RCEP bloc account for nearly a third of global gross domestic product, but its departure means they have less than a third of the world's population instead of around half, Reuters News Service noted in a story.