BEIJING — After eight years of talks, China and 14 other nations from Japan to New Zealand to Myanmar on Sunday formally signed one of the world’s largest regional free trade agreements, a pact shaped by Beijing partly as a counterweight to American influence in the region.
The agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or R.C.E.P., is limited in scope.
The pact covers more of humanity — 2.2 billion people — than any previous regional free trade agreement and could help further cement China’s image as the dominant economic power in its neighborhood.
It also comes after a retreat by the United States from sweeping trade deals that reshape global relationships.
To some trade experts, this new agreement shows that the rest of the world will not wait around for the United States.