CAMBODIA — The sixteen (16) Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministers from the 10 members states of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam) together with its Free Trade Area (FTA) partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand expressed their collective determination to conclude the trade negotiation this year as they gathered on the 2nd of March 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia for the 7th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting.

Recalling the Leaders’ mandate at the 2nd RCEP Summit last November 2018 in Singapore to conclude the RCEP negotiations in 2019, Ministers endorsed an RCEP Work Plan that will serve as the roadmap of negotiators towards the conclusion of the agreement. They also emphasized the need to come up with a mutually beneficial and balanced trade agreement while giving due recognition to legal and constitutional limitations faced by some countries.

With the current global uncertainties, fast paced evolution of technology, and increasing interface among countries, the global economy sees the imperative need to establish a more stable trading environment. RCEP is expected to materialize this objective. It will also level the playing field and help contribute in building a free and fair market in the region.

The momentum is there, so negotiators must work doubly hard to meet the objectives of the agreement while mindful of the various legal and economic development of the countries. There is full commitment from all ministers to fully address, as early as possible, the remaining issues in negotiations to ensure conclusion before yearend,” said Sec. Ramon Lopez.

According to Sec. Lopez, this agreement is envisaged to achieve greater market access for goods, services, and investments, and provide business-friendly and trade-facilitative rules for businesses and investors in the 16-member economies that account for a third of the world economy and half of the world’s population. If concluded, it is important that the Philippines can translate the benefits of the agreement to boost its economy to improve the welfare of its people.

Read more on the 7th RCEP ISSL MM here.♦

Date of Release: 4 March 2019