The RCEP deal that was struck between some of the largest economies in the south-east Asia has left the country’s top leaders divided. The trade deal was struck on Sunday and became the biggest multinational trade deal ever, even without the might of the US. But India, though a regional heavyweight, too has been left out of the pact.

What is the RCEP deal? Let’s know.

1)      RCEP or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a trade bloc of 15 countries which includes the 10 ASEAN members (Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippinnes, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand) and China, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Among them, the nations will control about 30% of world GDP, which makes it the biggest trade bloc in history.

2)      The idea for the pact was introduced at the 2011 ASEAN Summit—it took nine years for it to come into existence.

3)      The treaty will come into effect two years from now, when it has been ratified by all member states.

4)      The treaty is the first free trade agreement between all its member states, which includes a mix of high, low, and middle income countries.

5)      This is the second bloc the US has kept itself out of after Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was signed by Obama, and undone by Trump over issues with China.

6)      India pulled out of negotiations on becoming a part of the RCEP on November 4, 2019, raising certain economic concerns.

7)      The prospect of becoming a part of the bloc was criticized by the Congress party last year, with its leader Sonia Gandhi calling the treaty detrimental to the interests of Indian farmers, and youths.

8)      The partnership’s kick-off on Sunday elicited a fresh round of carping—with former Commerce Minister in the UPA government, Anand Sharma, speaking freely in favour of the pact and criticizing India’s rebuffing the offer.

9)      Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram too criticized the move by India, though in a much guarded manner. He said on Twitter that he will not put forth his view on it till Congress has not taken a considered position on it.

10)   The door on India by the pact members has not been shut. It can still be a part of it after agreeing to some of key issues which obstructed its way in last time.