Overview : Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Officials of the 16 governments participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the 10 ASEAN Member States and its Free Trade Agreement Partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand) – the first meeting met in Brunei Darussalam to start detailed negotiations aimed at concluding RCEP by the end of 2015.
Consistent with the RCEP Leaders’ Joint Declaration on the Launch of Negotiations for the RCEP of 20 November 2012 and the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the RCEP endorsed by RCEP Ministers on 30 August 2012, the RCEP negotiations will aim to:
- achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement establishing an open trade and investment environment in the region to facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development; and
- boost economic growth and equitable economic development, advance economic cooperation and broaden and deepen integration in the region through the RCEP, which will build upon our existing economic linkages.
Negotiations for the RCEP will recognize ASEAN Centrality in the emerging regional economic architecture and the interests of ASEAN’s FTA Partners in supporting and contributing to economic integration, equitable economic development and strengthening economic cooperation among the participating countries.
The RCEP will have broader and deeper engagement with significant improvements over the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, while recognizing the individual and diverse circumstances of the participating countries.
The RCEP will include provisions to facilitate trade and investment and to enhance transparency in trade and investment relations between the participating countries, as well as to facilitate the participating countries’ engagement in global and regional supply chains.
Taking into consideration the different levels of development of the participating countries, the RCEP will include appropriate forms of flexibility including provision for special and differential treatment, plus additional flexibility to the least-developed ASEAN Member States, consistent with the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, as applicable.
- The 7th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation was held from 4-13 February 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries underscored the necessity to intensify deliberations towards the aim of successfully concluding negotiations by end-2015.
- Noting the urgency in moving towards substantive negotiations on the core issues, the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and the RCEP Working Groups escalated their discussions on the modalities for trade in goods, trade in services and investment. The TNC called for all Parties to strive for resolution to the core issues, which are pragmatic, credible, and acceptable to all Parties and consistent with the Guiding Principles and Objectives of Negotiating the RCEP.
- The drafting of texts on the agreed elements under the different areas of negotiation has progressed further, including: trade in goods; trade in services; investment; economic and technical cooperation; intellectual property; competition; and legal and institutional issues.
- Discussions on cross-cutting issues including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and e-Commerce have deepened. Indonesia and Thailand organised a Workshop on Sharing of Best Experiences and Knowledge on Policy Making in Optimising the Negotiation and Implementation of RCEP for SMEs on 8 February 2015, attended by delegates to the Working Group on Economic and Technical Cooperation. An e-Commerce Experts’ Meeting was held on 8 February 2015, attended by e-Commerce experts and representatives from the RCEP Participating Countries. A number of informal sessions were also held at the side line of the 7th round of RCEP negotiations.
- Joint sessions on other issues like non-tariff measures, trade remedies and government procurement were also held at the side line of the 7th round of negotiations.
- RCEP Participating Countries are looking forward to the 8th round of RCEP negotiations which will be held from 8-13 June 2015 in Kyoto, Japan.