ASEAN’s RCEP trade negotiations stall

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Tax-News.com | 16 June 2015

ASEAN’s RCEP Trade Negotiations Stall

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

The eight round of negotiations held on June 8-13 in Kyoto for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade treaty finished with little apparent progress being made towards an agreement on further tariff cuts.

The lack of progress calls into question the end-2015 target for completing talks on the RCEP, which would bring the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its six current free trade agreement (FTA) partners – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – into a single comprehensive trade agreement. This would link a third of the world’s gross domestic product and a market of 45 percent of its population.

At the meeting countries were said to have expressed differences over the scale of the additional import duty cuts to be attempted, particularly with regard to each country’s sensitive products. It is now hoped that ministerial level talks next month will be able to break the current impasse.

The difficulties being seen in completing the RCEP could be said to mirror problems also being seen in negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the trilateral China-Japan-South Korea FTA.

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