RCEP trade deal: Will Myanmar really benefit?

Existing free trade agreements and longstanding non-trade barriers could limit the RCEP’s impact on Myanmar, but the country may benefit from increased investment due to improved access to global value chains.

The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership on November 15 made headlines across the globe. The monumental trade pact involves the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan, and 13 other countries across ASEAN and Australasia, including Myanmar. Collectively they cover a third of the world’s population and 30 percent of global economic output.

Although not the smallest RCEP signatory in terms of population or economy, Myanmar is among the poorest in terms of GDP per capita. The government has lauded Myanmar’s inclusion as an important development for future economic growth, and indeed the country does potentially have much to gain. But what can we realistically expect this massive trade deal to deliver for the people of Myanmar, and what are likely to be the barriers to the country reaping more significant benefits?

Keep reading