China may claim a symbolic victory in the signing of the world’s biggest trade deal in the face of ongoing US disinterest in multilateralism, but the direct economic benefits will be marginal, studies show.

The trade agreement, initiated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 2012 but often regarded as a China-led counterpart to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), covers nearly one third of the world’s population and gross domestic product (GDP).

However, while membership of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will add incrementally to Chinese GDP, it will not be enough to cancel out the damage of the trade war with the United States, research showed.
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