NHK World Japan - 15 October 2019
RCEP remains divided over tariffs
Ministers from 16 Asia-Pacific countries are close to reaching an agreement on a proposed free-trade pact. But key issues still stand in the way. The countries have decided to hold a follow-up ministerial meeting early next month in a bid to break the deadlock.
The officials are aiming to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, by the end of the year. Countries have now decided on a final 10-day window to bilaterally sort out pending differences in the mega trade deal, after which the leaders of the 16 nations will step in..
The ministers met in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Saturday. They represented Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Jurin Laksanawisit, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, said," The negotiations in this round progressed significantly. We were able to conclude 14 chapters out of 20." He reiterated the group’s intention to conclude a deal by year-end.
But the members were divided over tariff reduction and investment rules. India was reluctant to open its market wider.
The November meeting would come right before a summit.