New Straits Times - 12 March 2020
Asean agrees to persuade India to return to RCEP
Asean nations have agreed to try and persuade India to return to the negotiating table for the 16 nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.
Vietnam, as the current Asean chair, would act as a bridge with India while coordinating with other Asean countries to ensure the benefits of all Asean members.
The government representatives also agreed that despite India’s withdrawal, the RCEP would still be a big free trade that sets a common trade rule.
Vietnam News agency said that in discussions during the preparatory RCEP meeting here earlier this week, Asean members also expressed their expectations that the participation of all 16 countries would bring huge benefits for all members.
Negotiations for the RCEP, which started in 2012, have targeted strengthening economic cooperation among the 10 Asean members with China, Japan, Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand.
The RCEP is home to 30 per cent of the world’s population and 29 per cent of the world’s GDP.
Vietnam has also proposed initiatives, priorities and cooperation plans for discussion, consultation and consensus with member states to conclude negotiations.
During the meeting, the representatives of Asean countries also discussed investment service regulations and a flexible open door market policy among the 16 nations.
They also agreed to fix a schedule for ending negotiations on RCEP.
The preparatory meeting was held before the 26th Asean Economic Meeting (AEM) Retreat here yesterday (March 10).
It was followed by the Asean Business Advisory Council Consultation on March 11.