BANGKOK, Oct 12 — All 10 member states of Asean and its six dialogue partners have reaffirmed their commitment towards finalising the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) even though there are still six outstanding chapters.
As the clock is ticking, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he is optimistic that the remaining six of the 20 chapters will be concluded before the 35th Asean Summit is held here from November 2 to 4.
“To ensure the trade pact will be finalised before the RCEP leader meeting, the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) will be held in Bangkok from Oct 14 to 19 and the RCEP ministerial meeting on November 1,” he told a press conference after chairing the 9th RCEP Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings here today.
Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking was present.
The outstanding chapters are namely, trade remedy measures, trade competition, trade in service, rules of origin, investment, and e-commerce.
The latest chapter that has just been concluded was free flow of human resources.
The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between the 10 member states of Asean — Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and its six Free-Trade Agreement partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
The RCEP negotiations were launched during the 21st Asean Summit in November 2012 in Phnom Penh.
The trade pact comprises a population of 3.4 billion with a total gross domestic product (GDP) of US$49.5 trillion (RM207 trillion), or about 39 per cent of the world’s GDP.
The deal is likely to be signed next year if the negotiations could be finalised in the meeting in November in Bangkok. — Bernama