June 23, 2019, Bangkok, Thailand – Trade ministers of the ASEAN countries are united in their commitment to conclude the seven year-long negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement this year.

According to Sec. Lopez, with the challenges being faced by the multilateral trading system right now, and the protectionist stance of some countries, there is a need to reinforce the trust on the international trade rules, and the free interface of economies especially in the ASEAN region and its trading partners.

In this era of globalization and advent of new technologies, countries need each other and we have to work in a stable and predictable economic environment.” said Lopez.

During the special economic ministers meeting, the trade ministers reaffirmed their commitment on the trade pact, settling several pending issues, and reminded participating countries that it is highly crucial to conclude the negotiation this year.

RCEP is envisioned as the biggest trade deal. With 16 trading partners, it is equivalent to almost 50% of the world population and almost one third of the world economy and trade. The next round of negotiation will be held next week in Melbourne, Australia, and it is expected that substantial progress will be achieved in the said round. ♦

Date of Release: 24 June 2019