Delegates to the meeting (Source: VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – Ministers from 16 countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partner (RCEP) adopted a joint statement in Singapore on August 31.

In the joint statement, the ministers assessed the developments since the 5th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting on 1 July 2018 in Tokyo, Japan, including the outcomes of the 23rd round of negotiations held on 17-27 July 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

They also provided guidance on specific issues elevated by the Trade Negotiating Committee and exchanged views on the next steps toward the conclusion of negotiations.

They welcomed the conclusion of two additional chapters at the 23rd round of negotiations, namely the Chapters on Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation and Government Procurement, bringing the total concluded chapters to date to four.

The ministers adopted a Package of Year-End Deliverables developed by the Trade Negotiating Committee, and welcomed the plans to achieve the targets set out in the Package.

They tasked negotiators to leverage on the positive momentum to expeditiously bring negotiations to a mutually beneficial and fair conclusion. To this end, negotiators were instructed to exert utmost efforts to achieve each of the targets in the Package by the end of this year.

The delegates expressed the hope that completion of the Package would signify the substantial conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year.

They looked forward to the next update from the negotiators before the yearend, and agreed to keep the lines of communication open and stand ready to provide prompt guidance and support to the negotiations, including through intensified domestic consultations, so as to achieve the targets set out in the Package.

RCEP comprises the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, China, the Republic