RCEP trade deal expected to be signed in 2018 hinh anh 1ASEAN economic ministers at the 49th AEM (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Trade ministers of 16 involving countries have agreed to speed up negotiations so as to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2018.

RCEP member nations have agreed that the negotiations over the regional trade agreement will be concluded in 2018, Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita told reporters after a meeting in Manila, the Philippines, on November 12.

The involving nations need to be more practical and flexible to narrow the gaps among them, he commented.

RCEP economic ministers admitted in September that negotiations over the agreement would not be reached this year. Previously, RCEP nations have missed out the deadlines in 2015 and 2016.

Initiated in 2012, RCEP is a trade agreement among 10 ASEAN member nations and six dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

RCEP whose member nations account for 50 percent of the world’s population and 39 percent of the global GDP is expected to be the world’s biggest trade bloc.

Unlike the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, RCEP members are not required to observe regulations on protecting labour rights and enforcing environment standards.-VNA