Signing of RCEP to help post-pandemic regional economic recovery: Lao official hinh anh 1Delegates to the Preparatory RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Nontha Buri, Thailand, on November 1, 2019 (Source: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) – The completion and early signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is very important to the process of economic recovery in the region, said a member of the Lao negotiation team to the RCEP talks.

Santisouk Phounesavath, deputy head of the Foreign Trade Policy Department under Laos’ Ministry of Industry and Trade, told the Vietnam News Agency that due to the different levels of development in RCEP participating countries, the talks have encountered many difficulties. However, most of them have been settled and very few remain after eight years of negotiations, he said, adding that he personally believes the deal can be signed at the end of this year.

According to the official, the signing of the RCEP will be a sign showing that the deal’s members support the multilateral trade system, so it is important to accelerate the work to quickly complete and sign the deal.

Once signed, the RCEP will become the world’s biggest trade agreement, thus creating opportunities and markets for Laos, helping the country participate deeper in regional supply chains, he said.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific region between the 10 member states of the ASEAN and its five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea). India initially participated in the talks, but it withdrew in November 2019. The 15 negotiating parties account for 30 percent of the world's population and just under 30 percent of the world's GDP.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012./.