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An Analysis of Factors Behind Joining or Not Joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) : Cases of South Korea, China, Japan, and India

  • Korea and Global Affairs
  • Abbr : KGA
  • 2021, 5(6), pp.131-168
  • DOI : 10.22718/kga.2021.5.6.006
  • Publisher : Korea Institute of Politics and Society
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : November 14, 2021
  • Accepted : November 28, 2021
  • Published : December 29, 2021

SeoJinHee 1 Kim Hyun 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to explain factors for South Korea, China, and Japan respectively to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was concluded in November 2020, as well as factors for India not to join it from the perspective of international regime theory. First, the main factor that South Korea joined was because it expected economic gains through trade expansion, as explained by neoliberalism. In addition, as predicted by the neorealist theory, another factor came from the intention of South Korea to enhance its relative position and influence by strengthening comprehensive cooperation with the ASEAN. Second, the main factor for China's accession to the RCEP was anticipated economic gains, which is consistent with the explanation of neoliberal theory. As predicted by the neorealist theory, China intended to increase its position and influence by taking the initiative in establishing a framework for multilateral trade cooperation in East Asia. Third, Japan joined the RCEP mainly in consideration of economic benefits, as predicted by neoliberalism. It also intended to demonstrate leadership in establishing a high-level multilateral free trade order through the RCEP. These factors are also consistent with a neorealist explanation. Fourth, the main reason that India did not join the RCEP was that it expected relative economic losses to China through the RCEP which, in turn, would weaken its relative position and influence in competition with China. This factor is adequately explained by the neorealist theory.

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