Fifteen Asian nations announced the formation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) over the weekend. RCEP is billed as the world’s largest trade agreement and includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. A spokesperson for Vietnam says the agreement will account for 30 percent of the global economy, 30 percent of the global population, and reach 2.2 billion consumers, according to Reuters. The United States is not included in the agreement. Organizers said RCEP is “creating a new trading structure in the region, enabling sustainable trade facilitation, revitalizing the supply chains disrupted by COVID-19 and assisting the post-pandemic recovery.”
The agreement, though not as comprehensive as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) rejected by the U.S. in 2017, will lower tariffs on trade between the countries involved. And, while the exact details of the tariff schedules are unknown, the agreement could affect Nebraska agricultural trade. South Korea and Japan are two of Nebraska’s largest beef customers. Australia and New Zealand are competitors into these markets. If RCEP results in lower tariffs for Australia and New Zealand product, Nebraska beef could be at a competitive disadvantage.