The other 15 parties appear to have decided that delay was no longer possible and further negotiations were not likely to resolve such fundamental issues. They decided to close the agreement and move towards signature and entry into force . The door has been left ajar, of course, as negotiations can still take place. India could join by February or potentially after that time. Much of the focus in the last two days has been on the situation in India. This is understandable, but also somewhat unfortunate, as it has obscured the importance of the RCEP announcement. Leaders have pulled off what many believed was an impossible task—in spite of strong global headwinds, 15 Asian countries managed to agree on a significant new trade deal that will lead to new integration in the region. The 15 are an extremely diverse bunch from rich to least developed economies, from large to tiny, from agricultural powerhouses to industrial manufacturing centers and resource based economies. The agreement is not, as so many have described, a shallow, meaningless deal. It covers the full range of topics of importance to companies and consumers, including goods, services, and investment. It addresses issues like intellectual property rights and standards. It has elements on smaller firms and development.