The conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been put off for another year until late next year, due to conflict of interest among the 16 participating countries.
A Korean government official said on Nov. 17 that the postponement would be made official at working-level talks prior to this year’s ASEAN+3 Summit scheduled in Kuala Lumpur for Nov. 21 and 22.
The RCEP’s members include Korea, China, India, Japan and 10 ASEAN member countries. The combined number of the population in the region amounts to 3.4 billion, and the 16 countries have a total international trade volume of US$10.67 trillion, equivalent to 29 percent of the global total.
The first official negotiation for the establishment of the RCEP started in 2011, and all of the negotiations were going to be completed at the end of this year. However, the talks have been slow, as seven of the countries, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Malaysia, which are taking part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the same time, have been focusing on the conclusion and subsequent ratification of the TPP.
“The one-year postponement might be insufficient, with different countries having different issues at the negotiation table,” the official remarked.