Dhaka has decided to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is the largest trade bloc in the world. This will afford Bangladesh duty-free trade facilities in almost one-third of the countries of the world. News outlets have reported quoting senior officials that the commerce ministry will send a formal proposal outlying Dhaka’s intentions to join the bloc.
Currently, Bangladesh is set to lose its duty-free access to other countries in 2026 when it graduates from the LDC status. But by joining RCEP, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the ASEAN countries, Bangladesh will continue to enjoy duty-free trade with these economies. RCEP signatories cover a market of 2.2 billion people and a combined economy of $26.2 trillion.
RCEP was signed by the initial 15 member countries on 15 November 2020. The deal will come into effect within 60 days after at least 9 of those 15 members, 3 ASEAN and 6 non-ASEAN, countries ratify the deal in their parliaments. Singapore, Japan, and Thailand have already ratified the deal in their respective legislatures.