RCEP countries make "significant" progress in trade talks

Update: 08:35 | 28/08/2020
Ministers from 15 Asia-Pacific countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement on August 27 said they have made "significant progress" toward the signing of the deal by the end of the year, while whether India will stay on as a member of the framework remains uncertain.
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Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at the event.

Following a videoconference held in the absence of India, the ministers released a joint statement saying that the deal "remains open for India given that not only had it participated in the RCEP negotiations since they were launched in 2012 but also in recognition of the potential of India to contribute to the region's prosperity.”

The statement said the ministers welcomed "the significant progress" made toward finalizing the deal for signing at the summit of RCEP leaders in November 2020.

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting global supply chains and hitting regional economies, the ministers also "underscored the significant role that the RCEP agreement could play in post-pandemic recovery efforts as well as in contributing to the growth and stability of the regional and global economy," it said.

The outlook for the RCEP deal remains unclear after India, which is concerned that opening up its market would cause its trade deficit with China to grow, said last November it will no longer participate in the negotiations and skipped subsequent working-level talks.

Besides India, 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand are taking part in the talks.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The RCEP deal aims to establish common rules for e-commerce, trade and intellectual property. It will cover a third of the global economy and half the world's population if India is included.

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(Source: VNA)