The virtual summit was hosted by Vietnam, which held the position of rotating president before the event. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was held by videoconference due to the pandemic. Many Member States already have free trade agreements (FTA) between them, but there are restrictions. Read more: Joe Biden is hardly the free trade that Asia is hoping for The ASEAN-Korea Merchandise Trade Agreement was signed in 2006 and entered into force in 2007. It defines the preferential trade regime for goods between ASEAN member states and South Korea, which allows 90% of the products traded between ASEAN and Korea to be treated duty-free. The agreement provides for a gradual reduction and elimination of tariffs by each country on almost all products. Under the Trade in Goods Agreement, ASEAN-6, including Brunei Darussalam and Korea, abolished more than 90% of tariffs in January 2010. The new ASEAN members, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, have not fallen far behind in implementing their commitments in the CEPT, as nearly 80% of their products have been transferred to their respective ILS CEPT. Of these items, about 66% already have tariffs in the tariff range of 0 to 5%. Vietnam has until 2006 to reduce tariffs on products on the inclusion list to no more than 5%, Laos and Myanmar in 2008 and Cambodia in 2010. Negotiations on the new RCEP agreement began in 2012 and it was finally signed on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN has worked to improve customs coordination through the implementation of the ASEAN Single Window project. The ASEAN Single Window would allow importers to enter all transaction information electronically only once. This information would then be shared with all other ASEAN national customs authorities. Although these national customs and trade authorities coordinate with each other, disputes may arise. The ASEAN Secretariat does not have the legal authority to resolve such disputes, so disputes are resolved bilaterally through informal means or through dispute settlement. It includes the 10 MEMBER States of ASEAN; Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei – as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang celebrated the signing of the agreement in a speech at the summit, saying, “The signing of RCEP is not only an important milestone in regional cooperation in East Asia, but also a victory for multilateralism and free trade.” Under RCEP, parts from all member countries would be treated equally, which could provide an incentive for companies in RCEP countries to seek suppliers in the trading region. .