RCEP was certainly not launched in late 2012 with the intention of managing trade in a system of collapsing global rules. It is struggling to get across the finish line in November after years of fraught negotiations. Getting RCEP done is imperative. Asia needs RCEP more than it ever could have imagined at the outset. There are at least five key challenges ahead in meeting the rapidly approaching November deadline for closure:
1: Japan and South Korea are currently embroiled in a rapidly escalating trade and security dispute. The original problem stems from long-simmering historical grievances that have typically been tempered by the intervention of the United States. However, the breakdown of the global order means that there is currently no handbrake stopping these two neighbors from continuing to intensify their disagreements. It has already spilled over from trade to the security realm.