Fifteen Asian-Pacific countries have signed the world's biggest free trade deal. It is called the RCEP. The countries include 10 from Southeast Asia, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. These countries make up 30 per cent of the world economy. The idea for the RCEP started in 2012. Governments have been talking since then. China pushed the deal forward to help economies during the coronavirus pandemic. An economics expert said: "COVID-19 has reminded the region of why trade matters." Governments want to have economic growth.
Government leaders believe the free trade deal will help the Asia-Pacific region. China said: "The fact the RCEP has been signed after eight years of talks brings...hope amid the clouds." It added: "Multi-lateralism is the right way, and represents the right direction of the global economy and humanity's progress." South Korea said the RCEP, "represents an important step forward toward an ideal framework of global trade and investment." It said the deal included, "a diverse mix of developed, developing and least developed economies".