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ASEAN ON RCEP: RECALIBRATE, ARRIVE AT AN ACCEPTABLE ‘LANDING ZONE’

RCEP Ministers Meeting Pasay
Top economic officials from ASEAN and the region's trade partners gathered at the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on 10 September in Pasay City. 

Following the Philippine hosting of the 5th Ministerial Meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement on 10 September, as part of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, ASEAN economic ministers expressed strong commitment to take a more pragmatic and realistic approach to conclude the 16-party agreement.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the lead agency for the AEM Meetings reported that as part of the approach to conclude RCEP, ASEAN economic ministers instructed negotiating leads and teams to recalibrate long-held negotiating stances and positions, to arrive at an acceptable ‘landing zone’, and not hinder negotiation progress.

Top economic officials of the 10 ASEAN Member States and ASEAN FTA Partners— Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand—discussed the way forward for the earnest conclusion of RCEP negotiations. The recent RCEP ministerial meeting enabled clear takeaways as Ministers mapped out the way forward in further progressing market access and text based negotiations on the core negotiating areas embodied in RCEP.

With this guidance received from the ministers, the Incheon Round in October 2017 will be deemed important in defining the future course of the negotiations and steer it to a close. Two chapters have been concluded thus far, including the Chapters on Economic and Technical Cooperation, and Small and Medium Enterprises that underscore RCEP’s development dimension.

“The RCEP has entered a critical phase and, as in any negotiations there are familiar challenges arising from multiple parties with differing stages of development and varying interests,” said DTI Secretary and 2017 AEM Chair Ramon Lopez. Read more

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