SCOTT MORRISON Simon Birmingham RCEP
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

The ink has now dried on the Regional and Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP), a mammoth trade deal signed yesterday by Australia and 14 other countries across the Asia-Pacific.

Here in Australia, it’s been described in triumphant terms. It's been called the biggest trade deal in human history, a multi-billion-dollar injection into the regional economy, and an opportunity to cool off an increasingly testy relationship with China while also diversifying Australia’s trading partners.

In the United States, the RCEP has been framed as a sign of Beijing’s dominance in the region. International media outlets have also raised concern about the extent of its trade liberalisation, and Malcolm Turnbull has criticised it as having “low ambition”.