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Ministers meet to promote RCEP signing by year’s end

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Tue, 1 Sep. 2020

CMSC The 8th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting was held online on August 27 under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.

The event, attended by economic ministers of 15 member countries, aimed to promote talks on the RCEP towards the signing of this agreement in late 2020 as ordered by RCEP leaders.

In his opening remarks, Minister Anh highly valued efforts by negotiators since the year’s beginning, noting that in-depth meetings and discussions have still taken place on schedule despite the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak.

Participating officials acknowledged that the pandemic’s negative impact has generated many considerable challenges to trade and investment flows in the region, including the countries participating in the RCEP talks.

They highlighted the need for the members to ensure that their markets remain open, especially to essential goods and services, and to continue enhancing cooperation to effectively respond to COVID-19.

The ministers emphasised the special significance of the RCEP agreement amid economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, believing that the deal signing will provide a basis for strengthening the business community’s confidence, making the regional economic architecture more sustainable, and showing the region’s support for an open, comprehensive and rules-based multilateral trading system.

At the meeting, they also stressed the RCEP’s role in post-pandemic economic recovery, which will greatly help with the stable growth of the global and regional economies.

Participants also recognised efforts and strides in the RCEP negotiations to date so that the deal can be inked at the RCEP Summit this November.

In particular, they re-affirmed that the RCEP negotiations remain open to India, saying this country engaged in negotiations since the launch in 2012, and it holds the potential for contributing to the common prosperity of the region.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement among the 10 member states of ASEAN and its five partners, namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. India withdrew from the talks in November 2019.

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