Ministers of RCEP member countries begin video conference

Ministers from Asia-Pacific countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership began a videoconference on June 23, with how to bring India back to the talks among the focuses.

Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would lower tariffs and set rules on investment and intellectual property for an area covering a third of the global economy and half the world population, began in 2013, but members have continually failed to meet deadlines for the deal signing.

At a summit last November, 15 of the participating countries – the 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand – agreed to work toward signing the agreement by the end of 2020.

However, India, which is reluctant to open up its market due to concern that its trade deficit with China would grow, has skipped subsequent working-level talks.

The other countries, including ASEAN nations are trying to convince India to return though some are willing to conclude a 15-country deal.

Once implemented, the partnership is set to raise the 15 member countries’ GDP to 137 billion USD, about 80 percent of the figure when the bloc has enough 16 members./.