DOLLAR: Well, it`s really hard to keep geopolitics out of these discussions. You and I are economists, but I would like to ask if there is a relationship between this RCEP agreement and China`s Belt and Road Initiative, the great diplomatic initiative to build infrastructure in developing countries? The ASEAN countries, many of them participate very actively, so is there a relationship? The most important conclusion, however, is that the United States could lose its global leadership in trade with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, this situation can be reversed – the door is still open for the US, for example, on the CPTPP – and hopes are high that a new Biden administration will do just that. Whether or not this reversal takes place is another question facing the global economy in 2021. We didn`t have a clear Asian strategy in the Trump years. There is the free and open Indo-Pacific vision that the Trump administration has introduced. And the scholars who kind of looked at it as the words because they look like a free and open region, a peaceful region above the Indo-Pacific. They are historically very consistent with U.S. policy in the past, but the implementation was very narrow-minded – sort of unilateral. Essentially, imagine China as an existential threat and then try with all kinds of political people to contain what planners saw as that threat. In doing so, they have more or less ignored the economic pillar. For example, very few new agreements, new financial supports or new commitments have been initiated in the last four years. From the outset, the agreement aimed to further liberalise trade in goods and services while making progress in areas such as competition policy, intellectual property rights (IPR), investment, economic and technical cooperation and public procurement.

The signing took place virtually at an RCEP summit that coincided with various meetings of heads of state and government and ministers among Asia-Pacific economies. The 15 participating countries include the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of their partners in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. In all this, we must remember that we are not closed camps: we act both within and among ourselves and we share many challenges. That is why the EU must try to work with its partners in Asia and the United States to write the 21st century regulation in an open and cooperative way. Although RCEP has seven CPTPP members under RCEP, this is a different type of trade agreement. The CPTPP has made a major contribution to the harmonization of key issues such as intellectual property, environment, labour and rules for state-owned enterprises. .