The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan are looking forward to concluding negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on schedule by the end of 2015.

According to a statement at the ASEAN-Japan Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on November 12, both sides acknowledged the progress in negotiations for the RCEP which will contribute to regional economic integration, as well as enhancing economic cooperation among participating countries.

The RCEP is a Proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN’s ten member countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, with which the regional grouping has existing free trade agreements.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

ASEAN and Japan also reiterated their commitment to double trade and investment flows by 2022.

Bilateral ASEAN-Japan trade reached 240.9 billion USD in 2013, accounting for 9.6 percent of the bloc’s total trade.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan into ASEAN reached 22.9 billion USD in 2013. It made the East Asian nation the second largest source of FDI for ASEAN with 18.7 percent of the total inflows in 2013.

On the same day, the importance of the RCEP was emphasised as a key instrument in realising the ASEAN Economic Community at the 12th ASEAN-India Summit.

Both sides stressed the need to expedite the ongoing RCEP negotiations and timely implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement.

Total trade between ASEAN and India reached 67.9 billion USD in 2013 with both reaffirming commitments to reach the 100 billion USD target by 2015.

The next round of negotiations for the RCEP is scheduled for December in New Delhi.-VNA