Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday cited “significant progress” on negotiations for the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that will cover 16 economies in the Asia Pacific.
In his opening remarks during the 3rd RCEP Summit here, the Prime Minister said he is “pleased” with the recent developments on RCEP talks.
“Amid the current global trade environment, I believe that successful conclusion of RCEP will greatly contribute to stable and sustainable regional economic development,” he said.
RCEP will be between the Asean countries and six partner-states namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
Authorities said this economic bloc, once fully operational, will account for one-third of the world’s output, with a market of about 3.5 billion people.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez represented the country to the 3rd RCEP Summit.
Last Saturday, Lopez said discussions on the mega trade agreement posted “substantial progress” because it is “almost concluded”, with 18 of the 20 chapters of the text-based rules already approved after the trade ministers’ meeting last November 1.
Asean leaders expect to sign the agreement by February 2020.
Before the RCEP Summit Monday, only one country still has questions on the rules and reports have identified this to be India, whose officials want clear rules for fear of influx of cheap China products into their economy to the detriment of their people.
Asean member-countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (PNA)