Ways to accelerate the negotiation on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are the focus of a two-day workshop which opened in Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 27.

Co-hosted by the Secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Trade Ministry of Indonesia, the event is being attended by all 10 ASEAN member countries and six partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

The workshop aimed at seeking a breakthrough in the RCEP talk process, with the sixth round of talks scheduled for December in India, said the Trade Ministry’s Director General of Foreign Trade Bachrul Chairi.

Participants debated proposals on changes in negotiation methods and reached agreement on the need to cut several steps in order to increase the pace of the talks.

At the fifth round of RCEP talks in Singapore in June this year, ASEAN and its six trade partners – Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and New Zealand- failed to reach agreement on key issues relating to the trade of goods and services as well as investment, raising concerns that they could miss the goal of concluding the RCEP next year.

Once concluded, the RCEP is expected to create a vast market with a population of 3.4 billion and combined GDP of 21.4 trillion USD.-VNA