Beijing, Oct 28 : A significant progress has been achieved regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade area negotiated between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and its partner countries, but some unresolved issues still require consensus, China's Assistant Minister of Commerce Li Chenggang said on Monday.
"Prompt completion of negotiations on RCEP will contribute to long-lasting stability, prosperity and development of the region," Lee said at a briefing.
He recalled that the negotiations on the agreement started in 2012, and since then two meetings of leaders, 18 ministerial meetings and 28 rounds of negotiations have already taken place.
"Since the beginning of this year, following the consensus reached during the second meeting of leaders, we have made tireless efforts to conduct appropriate negotiations, and we have achieved significant progress," Lee said.
According to him, at the moment there are only a few issues, which require consensus.
The RCEP negotiations, aimed at enhancing trade and investment activities in the region, were launched in November 2012 by leaders from 10 ASEAN member states and six ASEAN partner countries, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States in February 2016. The deal never took effect as Washington withdrew from it in January 2017. (SPUTNIK)