Doubts have been raised whether RCEP can be a game changer for the region or not; due to many issues such as that, there already exists a good number of Free trade Agreements (FTAs) between these RCEP members (therefore RCEP is not adding something substantially new), some barriers and loopholes still remains, it does not offer any major breakthrough in new trade issues such as e-commerce. It will take some time to see the effects of RCEP, but surely the reduction of tariffs and non-tariffs will stimulate economic growth in the medium-long term. It will take some time to see how the member states benefit and reap the facilities of RCEP. But one impact is certainly visible if seen from the dynamics of geopolitics in the region, that at the moment, China has added an extra point in the game of strategic balance in Asia by clearly maintaining its dominance in the region.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
The RCEP can be seen as a crucial step within the longer process of integrating the Asia-Pacific region and of its increased geopolitical centrality. This process started with the idea of the “Asia-Pacific” and then, with the establishment of ASEAN in 1967, and later ASEAN+3 in 1997 that improved dramatically the relationship between nations in Southeast Asia and in the Asia-Pacific, allowing to avoid major conflicts. However, there remains a deficit of trust among Asia-Pacific members—complicated by China’s rise and a lack of an Asian identity—necessary to respect commitments on trade, investments, and intellectual property. While we are witnessing a pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, the Atlantic bloc and “the West” more broadly are far from disappearing.
Developed and developing countries have committed to implement global standards as developed by the OECD with the political mandate of the G20 including standards that provide for exchange of information among tax administrations. Some of the reasons for this exchange to take place, is the need to provide tax administrations with the relevant information on taxpayer’s activities/assets abroad, as well as to ensure that taxpayers including multinationals pay their fair share of taxation. Exchange of information is the key instrument for tax administrations in order to prevent tax evasion, tax fraud, and aggressive tax planning.
The call for an open, rules-based approach to investment facilitation at the multilateral level is informed by a tipping point in the international investment arena. As discussed below, this paradigm shift and various precedental challenges have made it imperative to seek international investment policy coherence.