Our figure of the month 12/2020: RCEP – today already trade focus
The conclusion of the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement is a statement for free trade in times of increasing protectionism. In November 2020, 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region agreed on tariff reductions and uniform rules for the exchange of goods and services. The RCEP countries account for 30 percent of world trade and 30 percent of the world's population. It is the largest free trade agreement in the world, ahead of the European Union (28 percent of world trade). Together, these three free trade zones account for 72% of world trade.
If only the export flows within and between the free trade zones are considered, then the focus of trade in all three free trade zones lies within their own trading region. In addition, it can be seen that the RCEP region is already the center of world trade. The Asian community of states maintains the largest export flow with the USMCA. Exports to the European Union follow by far. Similarly, the export flows from Europe to Asia and from North America to Asia are also significantly stronger than the export flow between North America and Europe.
In the future - under otherwise equal conditions - the concentration of world trade in the Asian region should continue to increase. Europe's weight in world trade is likely to decline in the long term, but the flow of exports will increasingly be directed towards Asia. The USA will also orient itself more towards Asia. The South American countries as well as Africa will hardly be able to increase their role in world trade in the long term - at best in individual export goods.
Therefore, the question arises as to whether a strengthening of Western trade links in terms of geopolitical foreign trade balance would not be an advantageous strategy.
Other figures can be found here.