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BANGKOK — The sixteen (16) Ministers of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) participating countries 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 gathered on 8th of September 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand for the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting.

According to Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, the RCEP Ministers expressed their collective determination to conclude the negotiations this year and recognized that the parties have reached a critical milestone as the conclusion of negotiations draws near. The Ministers mandated the negotiating teams to finish the last pending items on market access as well as a couple of issues on rules before the end of the month.

The 3rd RCEP Leaders’ Summit, to be attended by the Presidents and Prime Ministers, is scheduled at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in early November 2019, where the conclusion of the RCEP is set to be announced.

To ensure that the agreement will be concluded, the Ministers committed to exert utmost flexibility, and provide appropriate resources for the negotiations.

In today’s growing global economic uncertainty and trade frictions, the conclusion of the RCEP would help bring back the confidence to the international trading system and help ensure a more stable environment in trade and investment.

The agreement will also help level the playing field and help contribute in building a free and fair market in the region.

For the Philippines, this agreement is envisaged to achieve greater market access for goods, services, and investments, and provide a business friendly and trade facilitative rules for businesses and investors.” Lopez said.

The final round of negotiation is scheduled on September 19-28, 2019 in Danang, Vietnam.

Read the 7th RCEP MM Joint Media Statement here: https://asean.org/storage/2019/09/RCEPMM7-03-RCEP-MM-7-Joint-Media-Statement-FINAL.pdf ♦

Date of Release: 9 September 2019

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