BANGKOK, 11 September 2019 – Economic ministers from countries participating in negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) gathered in Bangkok on 8 September determined to conclude the world’s largest trading bloc by the end of the year.

RCEP includes all ASEAN economies, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. After seven years, negotiations have reached a critical milestone as the ministers are resolved to address the outstanding issues and conclude the pact.

“Negotiators should exercise maximum flexibility to close the negotiations,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi.

Given today’s developments, concluding RCEP negotiations this year would provide the much-needed stability and certainty to benefit regional supply chains as well as the global markets for trade and investment.  Dato Lim said that failure to do so will undermine the region’s trade and investment potential, putting market integration at risk.

Once concluded, RCEP would create a market of over 3.5 billion people accounting for about 30% of global trade. Its next negotiating round will be held in Da Nang, Viet Nam on 19-28 September.

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