"Trade will play a pivotal role in our effort to recover from COVID-19".
The pact covers almost a third of the world's population, it also accounts for 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and will reach around 2.2 billion consumers.
Along with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the trade bloc will account for 30 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"RCEP reflects our strong commitment for worldwide trade, connectivity, rules-based multilateral trading system and enhancing free flow of trade and investment", he added.
The RCEP agreement is loose enough to stretch to fit the disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia.
Australia's ties with China, its biggest trading partner, became frayed after Canberra called for an global inquiry into the source of the novel coronavirus, which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late a year ago. Singapore plans to approve the deal "in the next few months", he said.
The deal will reduce or remove tariffs and establish common rules, which is expected to further stimulate trade and investment, while strengthening supply chains for industrial goods, including automobile and consumer electronic parts. Interestingly, among the ASEAN signatories are several relatively far smaller economies including Vietnam and the Philippines, which not only continue to have their share of disputes with Beijing but also suffer significant trade imbalances with Asia's largest economy. Chapter 20 of the pact says, "This Agreement is open for accession by India, as an original negotiating State, from the date of its entry into force".
"ASEAN economies can also stand to gain from increased technical cooperation with advanced economies in the bloc to improve their competitiveness", it said.
The RCEP allows people to choose solidarity and cooperation when facing challenges, instead of resorting to conflict and confrontation; and to choose mutual assistance and support, rather than taking a "beggar-thy-neighbor" approach or a "wait-and-see" attitude, he said, adding it shows the world that opening-up and cooperation are the only way to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
But given concerns over China's growing influence, Biden is likely to seek much more engagement with Southeast Asia to protect USA interests, he said.
Al Jazeera said the US is absent from RCEP and the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office. In this year's election cycle, President-elect Joe Biden has not committed to a position on whether he would opt in or out. Many countries in Asia hope that the deal will help the corona virus epidemic recover faster.
Greater investment certainty for businesses.
The RCEP is also the first multilateral free trade agreement of which China is a member. "With one in five Australian jobs reliant on trade, the RCEP agreement will be crucial as Australia and the region begin to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic". "The pandemic will lead to a drop in FDI in the region of about 15.0 per cent".