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RCEP Explained: The World’s Biggest Trading Bloc Will Soon be in Asia-Pacific

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) covers 30% of global GDP and population. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

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RCEP Explained: The World’s Biggest Trading Bloc

Trade and commerce are the lifeblood of the global economy. Naturally, agreements among nations in a certain geographical area help facilitate relationships in ways that are ideally beneficial for everyone involved.

In late 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed, officially creating the biggest trade bloc in history. Here, we break down everything you need to know about it, from who’s involved to its implications.

Who’s in the RCEP, and Why Was it Created?

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between 15 nations in the Asia-Pacific region, and has been formalized after 28 rounds of discussion over eight years.

Member nations who are a part of the RCEP will benefit from lowered or completely eliminated tariffs on imported goods and services within the region in the next 20 years. Here are the countries which have signed on to be member nations:

CountryPopulation (M)Nominal GDP ($B)
🇦🇺 Australia25.7$1,359
🇧🇳 Brunei0.5$12
🇰🇭 Cambodia15.7$26
🇨🇳 China1404$14,723
🇮🇩 Indonesia270.2$1,060
🇯🇵 Japan125.8$5,049
🇰🇷 South Korea51.8$1,631
🇱🇦 Laos7.3$19
🇲🇾 Malaysia32.9$338
🇲🇲 Myanmar53.2$81
🇳🇿 New Zealand5.1$209
🇵🇭 Philippines108.8$362
🇸🇬 Singapore5.8$340
🇹🇭 Thailand69.8$502
🇻🇳 Vietnam97.4$341
RCEP Total2,274.2M$26,052B

Source: IMF

But there is still some work to do to bring the trade agreement into full effect.

Signing the agreement, the step taken in late 2020, is simply an initial show of support for the trade agreement, but now it needs to be ratified. That means these nations still have to give their consent to be legally bound to the terms within the RCEP. Once the RCEP is ratified by three-fifths of its signatories—a minimum of six ASEAN nations and three non-ASEAN nations—it will go ahead within 60 days.

So far, it’s been ratified by China, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore as of April 30, 2021. At its current pace, the RCEP is set to come into effect in early 2022 as all member nations have agreed to complete the ratification process within the year.

Interestingly, in the midst of negotiations in 2019, India pulled out of the agreement. This came after potential concerns about the trade bloc’s impacts on its industrial and agricultural sectors that affect the “lives and livelihoods of all Indians”. India retains the option to rejoin the RCEP in the future, if things change.

The Biggest Trading Blocs, Compared

When we say the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is the biggest trade bloc in history, this statement is not hyperbole.

The RCEP will not only surpass existing Asia-Pacific trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in size and scope, but also other key regional partnerships in advanced economies.

This includes the European Union and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, formerly known as NAFTA). How does the trio stack up?

 Nominal GDP, 2020Population, 2020
EU$15.2 trillion445 million
USMCA$23.7 trillion496 million
RCEP$26.1 trillion2.27 billion
World$84.5 trillion7.64 billion

With the combined might of its 15 signatories, the RCEP accounts for approximately 30% of global GDP and population. Interestingly, the total population covered within the RCEP is near or over five times that of the other trade blocs.

Another regional agreement not covered here is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is now the largest in terms of participating countries (55 in total), but in the other metrics, the RCEP still emerges superior.

Implications of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

The potential effects of the RCEP are widespread. Among others, the agreement will establish rules for the region around:

  • Investment
  • Competition
  • E-commerce
  • Intellectual property
  • Telecommunications

However, there are some key exclusions that have raised critics’ eyebrows. These are:

  • Labor union provisions
  • Environmental protection
  • Government subsidies

The RCEP could also help China gain even more ground in its economic race against the U.S. towards becoming a global superpower.

Last, but most importantly, Brookings estimates that the potential gains from the RCEP are in the high billions: $209 billion could be added annually to world incomes, and $500 billion may be added to world trade by 2030.

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Datastream

Euro 2020: Qualified Nations and Past Winners

After a year-long delay, the 2020 UEFA European Championship is back with new rules, reduced spectators, and fierce competition.

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Euro 2020 past winners

The Briefing

  • The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship will kick off Friday, June 11th 2021 after a year-long delay due to COVID-19
  • The tournament will take place across 11 host cities and feature new rules, reduced spectators, and fierce competition

The 2020 European Championship Returns with New Rules

After a year-long delay, the 2020 UEFA European Championship is set to kick off what will be the largest international sports tournament to take place since the pandemic.

While the final stage of the tournament typically takes place in one or two nations, this year’s will be played across 11 different countries.

Running from June 11th to July 11th 2021, the opening game between Italy and Turkey will kick off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and the final will take place at London’s Wembley Stadium.

COVID-19’s Impact on Teams and Spectators

Aside from the initial year-long delay, COVID-19 has changed how teams and spectators will participate in the tournament.

Squads have been expanded from 23 to 26 players, and coaches will be permitted to call up more players if COVID-19 infections force players into isolation.

For spectators, individual stadiums within host cities have announced varying capacities ranging from 20-100%, with strict stadium entry requirements across the board. Since these capacities are pre-tournament estimates, we’ll have to wait until matchday to see how many ticket-holders are comfortable attending the fixtures in person.

Host Stadium and CitySpectator Capacity
Johann Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam25-45%
Baku Olympic Stadium, Baku50%
Arena Națională, Bucharest25-45%
Puskás Aréna, BudapestAiming for 100%
Parken Stadium, Copenhagen25-45%
Hampden Park, Glasgow25-45%
Wembley Stadium, LondonMinimum of 25%
Football Arena Munich (Allianz Arena), MunichMinimum of 14,500 spectators (~22%)
Stadio Olimpico, Rome25-45%
Estadio La Cartuja, Seville25-45%
Krestovsky Stadium (Gazprom Arena), Saint Petersburg50%

Source: UEFA

More Substitutions and the Video Assistant Referee System

This edition of the tournament will also feature two new rule changes to the action on the field.

Coaches will now be able to make up to five substitutions (six if the match goes to extra time), a change first introduced in domestic leagues to allow players more rest as match calendars became congested.

Another key change which was already in play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system. This system appoints a match official who reviews the head referee’s decisions with video footage, and allows the head referee to conduct an on-field video review and potentially change decisions.

Strong Competition Among Euro 2020’s Favorites

Despite current world champions France remaining as undeniable favorites, bookies are putting England to win the tournament (despite a fairly young squad) partially due to the home field advantage in the semi-finals and final.

Spain, Germany, and Italy remain formidable competitors, and Belgium’s golden generation will have one final shot at silverware after their third place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

European champions Portugal are another obvious threat, as Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to become the tournament’s top goalscorer of all time (currently tied with Michel Platini at 9 goals).

While the 2020 edition of UEFA’s European Championship features a variety of on-field and off-the-field changes, the trophy truly feels up for grabs and is a welcome return to international football for fans around the world.

»Like this? Then you might enjoy this article, The Top 10 Football Clubs by Market Value

Where does this data come from?

Source: UEFA

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