A plan to finalize negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within this year has foundered. Instead, the countries adopted a joint communique calling for the final resolution of the deal next year. The RCEP is a large-scale free trade agreement (FTA) involving 16 countries in Asia and the Pacific.
The 16 countries -- the 10 ASEAN nations, Korea, Japan, China, India, Australia and New Zealand -- held an RCEP summit in Singapore on Nov. 14 and adopted a joint statement with a resolution to finalize the deal next year.
The leaders of the countries to participate in the RCEP assessed that, this year, RCEP negotiations entered the final stage. They also reaffirmed the need to conclude a modern, comprehensive and high level mutually beneficial RCEP to create an open trade and investment environment amid threats facing the world economy including protectionism.
Five and a half years have passed since the first round of RCEP negotiations in May 2013. A total of seven chapters have been concluded so far, and eleventh-hour negotiations are underway to open markets for goods, services and investment.