The entry into the force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the world’s largest free trade deal to date, shows the region’s resolve to keep markets open and support a multilateral trading system, The Bruneian government said on Saturday. The RCEP deal entered into force on the first day of 2022 for the six ASEAN members of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and for the four non-ASEAN signatories of China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. South Korea will join the implementation on Feb 1. “The entry into force of the RCEP agreement will pave the way for the creation of a free trade area that covers, based on the World Bank data, 2.3 billion people or 30 percent of the world’s population, contributes 25.8 trillion US dollars or about 30 percent of global GDP, and accounts for 12.7 trillion US dollars or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services, and 31 percent of global foreign direct investment inflows,” Brunei’s Ministry of Finance and Economy said in a statement. “These figures make RCEP the world’s biggest free trade agreement that will facilitate global value chains and trade within the region,” it noted. “As the world continues to grapple with the economic havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the entry into force of the RCEP agreement is a strong manifestation of the region’s resolve to keep markets open, boost regional economic integration; support an open, free, fair, inclusive, and rules-based multilateral trading system, and, ultimately, contribute to global post-pandemic recovery efforts,” the ministry added. The ministry also called on all the exporters in Brunei to utilize opportunities presented by the RCEP agreement, in particular the preferential tariff rates on offer and the potential for optimization of the supply chain.