Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

RCEP market snapshot (including Australia)

  • GDP: US$22.5 trillion (2015)
  • GDP per capita: US$6,420 (2015)
  • Population: 3,503.0 million (2015)
  • Trade with Australia: A$396.5 billion (2015)

About the RCEP negotiations

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations were launched by Leaders from ASEAN and ASEAN's free trade agreement (FTA) partners in the margins of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 20 November 2012. The negotiations are based on the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the RCEP [PDF] endorsed by Leaders.

The RCEP is an ASEAN-centred proposal for a regional free trade area, which would initially include the ten ASEAN member states and those countries which have existing FTAs with ASEAN – Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The RCEP will build on and expand Australia’s existing FTA with ASEAN and New Zealand, AANZFTA. It also complements Australia’s participation in bilateral FTAs with individual countries and the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses. The 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population, almost 30 per cent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports.

The objective of launching the RCEP negotiations is to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues.

The RCEP forms part of the Government’s strategy for lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for Australian exporters of goods and services, and for Australian investors.

Key interests and benefits

  • RCEP participating countries are important economic partners and regional neighbours for Australia.
  • Nine out of Australia’s top 13 trading partners (China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, India and Indonesia) are participating in RCEP negotiations, and together with the other six participating countries, account for almost 60 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade, and 70 per cent of Australia’s goods and services exports.
  • RCEP will provide a basis for more open trade and investment in the region. This will help address concerns about a ‘noodle bowl’ of overlapping bilateral agreements and derive additional benefits (eg. through supply chains) from regional liberalisation.
  • Australia and a number of other countries have been engaged in both the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the RCEP negotiations — these can provide complementary pathways to a free trade area of the Asia–Pacific.


Forward work program — scheduled meetings 2017

  • Eighteenth Round of Negotiations – 2-12 May 2017, the Philippines
  • Further negotiation rounds are being scheduled for 2017.

Previous Negotiating Rounds and Ministerial Meetings


Last Updated: 7 November 2016


Contact us

  • Email:
  • Fax: +61 2 6261 2187
  • Mail:
    RCEP Enquiries
    Free Trade Agreement Division
    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
    R.G. Casey Building
    John McEwen Crescent
    Barton ACT 0221

For media enquiries, please call DFAT's Media Liaison Section: (02) 6261 1555.