ASEAN Summit: RCEP negotiations to continue next year


The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations between ASEAN and its dialogue partners are likely to extend into 2016 as officials are still working on it. The ASEAN leaders are expected to make an announcement regarding the extension of the deadline to 2016 when they meet at the 27th ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur.

“The negotiations had seen “progress” in recent months but certain aspects of the deal required further discussion,” Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said. ASEAN Trade officials and their dialogue partners met in South Korea to kick-start the deal that looked like hitting a roadblock after three years of negotiations.

Addressing the issue, Mr Mustapa said: “Of course, we want to wait for the announcement by the leaders but although the modalities have been agreed to by all countries, negotiations will likely spill over into 2016.” India which is a dialogue partner is also pushing for the RCEP agreement to be negotiated.

The India-ASEAN RCEP will help in enhancing bilateral trade to USD 200 billion by 2022. An RCEP agreement would complement India’s existing free trade agreements with ASEAN and other countries.

The RCEP is a major platform in forging closer economic integration by removing barriers to trade and investments in the participating countries. The focus on RCEP follows the recent conclusion of talks on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, involving 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Malaysia.

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