Thailand asks for Japan’s support to finalise RCEP hinh anh 1Officials pose for a photo at the Preparatory RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on November 1 (Photo: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand has urged Japan to help finalise the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement grouping the 10 ASEAN countries and six other nations.

Thai media reported that the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Hideki Makihara, a senior vice-minister of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, discussed the RCEP at a meeting on November 2 on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits, which are taking place in Bangkok and Nonthaburi province.

Somkid asked the Japanese official to support the formation of the 16-member regional trading bloc, as both countries share the view that the RCEP deal will drive the region's growth and help with trade and investment.

Negotiations on the RCEP began in November 2012 with the aim of reinforcing economic ties between ASEAN and the six partners of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India, and New Zealand.

Thailand hopes that the RCEP negotiations, which have lasted for almost seven years, will complete within this year, when it holds the ASEAN chairmanship.

Earlier, representatives of the RCEP members had attended a ministerial meeting to prepare for the third RCEP Summit, slated for November 4. At this event, the officials discussed ways to deal with the outstanding problems in the negotiations. They also highly valued efforts and outcomes negotiators have attained so far in 2019.

As a major free trade deal of the Asia-Pacific, the RCEP, once signed, will gather 16 countries in a trading bloc of 3.56 billion people and a trade value of over 1 trillion USD, equivalent to 29 percent of the global trade./.