The Trade Negotiating Committee for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has issued a joint statement on the first round of negotiations between ASEAN and its six free trade agreement partners.

Officials of 10 ASEAN member states and six partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, conducted detailed negotiations on the RCEP in Brunei on May 9-13, aimed to complete the RCEP by the end of 2015, according to the ASEAN Secretariat’s press release.

The RCEP negotiations will target for a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement, establishing an open trade and investment environment in the region to facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth, said the press release.

They will also aim to boost economic growth and equitable economic development, advance economic cooperation and broaden and deepen integration in the region through the RCEP, which will build upon our existing economic linkages, it added.

Negotiations for the RCEP will recognise ASEAN centrality in the emerging regional economic architecture and the interests of ASEAN’s FTA partners in supporting and contributing to economic integration, equitable economic development and strengthening economic cooperation among the participating countries.

The RCEP will have broader and deeper engagement with significant improvements over the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, while recognising the individual and diverse circumstances of the participating countries.

The RCEP will include provisions to facilitate trade and investment and to enhance transparency in trade investment relations between the participating countries, as well as to facilitate their engagement in global and regional supply chains.

Taking into consideration the different levels of development of the participating countries, the RCEP will include appropriate forms of flexibility including provision for special and differential treatment, plus additional flexibility to the least-developed ASEAN member states, consistent with the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, as applicable.

The second round of RCEP negotiations is scheduled for September 23-27 in Australia.-VNA