Nam News | 4 March 2016
ASEAN economic ministers committed to implementing matters agreed to in RCEP talks
ASEAN economic ministers are committed to implementing matters agreed to in the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) related to tariff reductions on goods, said Mustapa Mohamed.
"Today, we (ASEAN Economic Ministers) agreed and expressed our commitment not to withdraw from the RCEP and the matters already agreed to will be implemented," the International Trade and Industry Minister told Bernama on the sidelines of the 22nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat here Thursday.
Several countries have said they find it difficult to eliminate 65 per cent of the tariff lines upon signing of the RCEP, rising to 80 per cent in 10 years.
The RCEP, a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN’s 10 member states and six dialogue partners — China, Japan, India, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand — was supposed to have been finalised last year, but is now expected to be signed this year.
The negotiations for the RCEP, which involves three billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$17 trillion, were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
The RCEP will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights, competition and dispute settlement mechanisms, among others.
Mustapa expressed hope the next round of negotiations in Perth, Australia would be successful, after negotiating teams met in Brunei recently.
On the retreat today chaired by Laos, Mustapa said efforts to ensure deeper and more comprehensive ASEAN integration will be continued in order to maintain the momentum achieved in Kuala Lumpur last year.