ASEAN leaders said they intend to continue expanding trade with India and that the door remains open in New Delhi to join the bloc. Although China already has a number of bilateral trade agreements, this is the first time it has signed a regional multilateral trade pact. The agreement is expected to help China, Japan and South Korea finally reach a trilateral free trade agreement after years of struggle to overcome their differences. The framework agreement was signed by eleven heads of government on 4 November 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. : Hassanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei Darussalam), Hun Sen (Prime Minister of Cambodia), Megawati Soekarnoputri (President of Indonesia), Bounnhang Vorachith (Prime Minister of Laos), Mahathir bin Mohamad (Prime Minister Minister of Malaysia), Than Sh (Prime Minister of Burma), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (President of the Philippines), Goh Chok Tong (Prime Minister of Singapore), Thaksin Shinawatra (Prime Minister of Thailand), Phan Ven Khi (Prime Minister of Vietnam) , Zhu Rongji (Prime Minister of the State Council of the People`s Republic of China).   The new free trade bloc will be larger than the agreement between the United States and Mexico and Canada and the European Union. The RCEP would initially have employed about 3.6 billion people and accounts for about one-third of world trade and global GDP. Less India, it still has more than 2 billion people and nearly a third of all commercial and commercial activities. On 1 January 2010, the average tariff rate on Chinese products sold in ASEAN countries increased from 12.8% to 0.6% until the remaining ASEAN members implemented the free trade area. Meanwhile, the average tariff rate on ASEAN products sold in China increased from 9.8% to 0.1%.  Up to 2015, ASEAN`s total merchandise trade with China reached $346.5 billion (15.2% of ASEAN trade), and ACFTA accelerated growth in Chinese direct investment and trade cooperation.  After the first six signatories met their target by 2010, the CLMV countries (Cambodia, PDR Laonais, Myanmar, Vietnam) pursued the same customs policy, with the same goal to be achieved by 2015.  In 2010, the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area became the largest free trade area in terms of population and the third largest in nominal GDP.
It was also the third volume of trade after the European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Area.   Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday reiterated his government`s support for „the expansion of a free and fair economic zone, including the possibility of India`s future return to the agreement, and hopes to win the support of other countries.“ Ten ASEAN countries and five other Asia-Pacific countries have signed the world`s largest trade agreement on GDP. The pact is expected to boost economic growth in a region hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is a free trade area between the ten member states of the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the People`s Republic of China. Critics of free trade agreements say they tend to encourage companies to relocate manufacturing jobs abroad. After winning disgruntled rust belt voters in the November 3 elections in Michigan and western Pennsylvania, Biden „will not waste it by returning to tPP,“ Michael Jonathan Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said at a web-based seminar. „The economic benefits of the agreement may be marginal for Southeast Asia, but there are some interesting trade and customs dynamics for Southeast Asia,“ said Nick Marro of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In addition, China`s share of ASEAN`s total trade rose from 2.1% in 1994 to 7% in 2003, making China ASEAN`s fourth largest trading partner after the European Union (11.5%), Japan (13.7%) 2000. United States of America (14%).