Participating countries commit to signing RCEP in 2020

Photo taken on June 23, 2020 shows the virtual 10th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting chaired by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi, Vietnam. (VNA/Handout via Xinhua)

HANOI--Ministers of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have reaffirmed their commitment to signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year in a joint media statement on Tuesday.



The signing of the agreement will serve as a clear sign of the members' unwavering support for the multilateral trading system, regional integration as well as economic development across the region, said the media statement from the virtual 10th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting chaired by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade on Tuesday.



The ministers agreed in the statement that the importance of RCEP continues to grow in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which constitutes an unprecedented challenge for trade, investment and global supply chains that requires a coordinated global response.



They also agreed to enhance cooperation and coordination to facilitate a strong and resilient economic recovery as well as sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth following the crisis.



The statement said India has been an important participant in the RCEP negotiations, noting that the ministers believe India's participation in RCEP would contribute to the advancement and prosperity of the region, and emphasizing that RCEP remains open for India.



Initiated by ASEAN in 2012, RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 ASEAN member states and their six FTA partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. In November last year, 15 participating countries of the agreement concluded text-based negotiations and essentially all market access issues at an RCEP summit in the Thai capital city of Bangkok.


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