RCEP talks make breakthroughs, leaders eye signing in 2020

Vietnamese trade minister Trần Tuán Anh.  VGP Photo

BANGKOK — There have been a number of breakthroughs during the latest round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the third RCEP leaders’ meeting.

Leaders from ASEAN+3, 10 ASEAN countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, met on Tuesday in Bangkok to discuss RCEP’s terms and conditions. 

The trade deal, initiated by ASEAN in 2012 which includes Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, is expected to be ratified in 2020. 

RCEP, with a market of 3.5 billion consumers and a total GDP of US$49 trillion that accounts for nearly 40 per cent of global GDP, forms the largest free-trade bloc the world has ever seen. Member countries are to join the open market for goods and services, investment opportunities, facilitated trade and simplified customs procedures. 

Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh said joining RCEP will mark an important milestone in Việt Nam’s global integration efforts, especially against a backdrop of increasing protectionism around the globe. 

“After seven years of talks, we have seen significant breakthroughs made thanks to efforts from all parties involved, especially at the 28th round of talks recently in Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam,” Anh told Vietnam News Agency. 

“We are pleased to see countries have reached an agreement to a final draft of the trade deal and nearly finished talks to open their respective markets to RCEP with the only exception of India.”

The trade deal is expected to give a boost to the region’s value chain and the development of ASEAN economies and its partners. RCEP, alongside with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), will give Vietnamese businesses unprecedented opportunities to find markets for their products and services. 

Việt Nam, as a member of ASEAN, has been working closely with ASEAN countries as well as the bloc’s partners to address concerns from all sides. 

“As ASEAN chair of 2020, Việt Nam has an important role to play in supporting ASEAN members and its partners to resolve a number of remaining issues. Việt Nam is fully committed to maintaining co-operation, finalising and preparing for the trade deal’s ratification,” said the Vietnamese trade minister. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called upon participating countries of RCEP to conclude talks on remaining issues and ensure the signing of the pact at its leaders’ meeting next year. — VNS

 

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