China-Backed RCEP Talks to Continue as Participating Countries Reach New Consensus

BY :VANESHA MANUTURI

AUGUST 25, 2015

Jakarta. Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership have reached a conclusion on the trade modality of goods, extending talks on one of the region's biggest free trade agreements.

The China-backed RCEP trade negotiating committee and ministers had met during the Association of the Southeast Asian Nation's Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Finally, participating RCEP countries have agreed on the trade modality of goods. This achievement follows the agreement on investment and trade modalities that the RCEP ministers discussed back in July in Kuala Lumpur," Indonesia's ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and RCEP trade negotiating committee chief Imam Pambagyo said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Following the recent consensus, the tenth round of talks is scheduled for Oct. 12-16 in Busan, South Korea.

Sondang Anggraini, a representative from the trade ministry, noted that the RCEP discussion touched on market access, as well as the technical details on narrowing the economic gap across the region.

RCEP is a regional trade agreement involving all ten Asean member states and their major trading partners, such as Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The trade agreement aims to increase economic cooperation among the participating countries across an array of sectors, including trade in goods, services and investment, as well as economic and technical cooperation. RCEP would also include intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues related to government regulations.

Still, the RCEP, which would create the biggest free trade area in the world with 49 percent of the world's population and 29 percent of global trade, has shown slow progress since its first round of talks in 2013.

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