Yonhap News| 15 February 2015
Latest round of RCEP negotiations end with no clear breakthrough
SEJONG, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) — The latest round of talks for a broad regional free trade pact involving more than a dozen Asian and Pacific countries, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, ended after active negotiations, the Seoul government said Saturday, but apparently with no clear sign of a major breakthrough.
The RCEP negotiations currently involve 16 countries, including South Korea, Japan, China and 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The rest are Australia, India and New Zealand. The latest round of RCEP talks was held in Bangkok, Thailand from Monday through Friday.
If signed, the RCEP will create an economic bloc whose member countries account for about 45 percent of the global population and over 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
"At the seventh round of talks, active negotiations were held on areas of products, service and investment, as well as competition, intellectual property and economic cooperation as they countries are moving to strike a deal in late 2015," South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.
The countries have agreed to conclude the negotiations before the end of this year but no major breakthrough has yet to emerge from the negotiations that began in May 2013.
The countries are scheduled to hold three more rounds of negotiations, along with two rounds of ministerial talks and a summit before the year’s end, to try to conclude the pact.