SINGAPORE – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that there was positive momentum in the trade discussions at the 6th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting held from October 12 to 13 in Singapore.

Trade ministers from RCEP participating countries—which cover the 10 ASEAN member countries and 6 partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea) have, over time, started to exercise more flexibility and allowed more realistic landing zones with respect to their positions on the degree and manner of liberalization.

The RCEP trade agreement represents half of the world’s population and one-third of global output. The trade leaders discussed options to resolve market access and trading rules that would help fast-track the substantial conclusion of RCEP by the end of the year.

We expect a good progress report to be presented to the ASEAN leaders during the ASEAN Summit in November,” said the Philippine trade secretary.

Secretary Lopez mentioned that the trade ministers of RCEP participating countries are intensifying efforts to reach a substantial conclusion on the chapter on market access, as this will be at improved levels compared to existing free trade agreements (FTAs) among participating countries. Likewise, the more chapters on rules are seen to be finalized by year-end.♦

Date of Release: 17 October 2018