‘Substantital progress’ in RCEP negotiation

‘Substantital progress’ in RCEP negotiation

Agency News

Bangkok, Nov 2 : Negotiation on the proposed 16-nations Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is seeing a "very positive development," the Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Saturday.

"I think what we can say is that we can report a very positive development to the leaders. There is substantial progress, a near conclusion or a preliminary conclusion, so we can have a very positive report on Monday," Lopez said in a media interaction here on the latest developments of the recent negotiations on the regional free trade pact.

"The mindset right now is for everybody could be in. All efforts are being extended, being worked on by 16 countries, so that everybody can be in."

Negotiators are making the last-minute efforts to meet the deadline. However, if the negotiations cannot be concluded before the third RCEP Summit on Monday, he said "there would be a continuing negotiation on the remaining issues."

"Hopefully it can be finished by February next year," Lopez said.

The RCEP, initiated by ASEAN in 2012, is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the association and the six free trade partners of ASEAN -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has put forward reasonable proposals and is engaged in the talks with sincerity for the free trade deal.

“We have put forward reasonable proposals in a clear manner and are engaged in negotiations with sincerity. We would like to see commensurate levels of ambition on services from many of our partners, even as we are ready to address their sensitivities”, Modi said.

The trade deal has been facing increasing resistance from the Indian industry, farmer groups, civil society organisations and opposition political parties, who apprehend China will dump cheaper goods in the country. (UNI)