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15 Asia-Pacific countries form world's largest trading bloc that excludes U.S.

China and 14 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on Sunday formed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that excludes the U.S., which pulled out of an earlier trade partnership under President Trump.

Why it matters: RCEP is the world's biggest free trading bloc, accounting for almost a third of all economic activity.


#ASEAN2020VN #CohesiveAndResponsive
This morning, economic ministers from 10 @ASEAN member States and Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership #RCEP after 8 years of negotiationshttps://t.co/BRfzchZ03G pic.twitter.com/zdlD8Mf2rd

— Viet Nam Government Portal (@VNGovtPortal) November 15, 2020
  • The nations aim for the pact to "mitigate the crippling cost of the coronavirus and ease financial pain," per a statement from Vietnam's government, from where the leaders' online summit was hosted.

Of note: The agreement will see "already low" trade tariffs between member nations progressively reduce further, though it's "less comprehensive" than the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord that Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2017, AP notes.

The big picture: The signatories comprise the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

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Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds one of the first significant actions by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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