Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Jock Hoi has expressed his confidence that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be completed in principle before Thailand’s chairmanship ends at the end of this year.
At a roundtable on ASEAN Vision 2040: Towards Bolder and Stronger ASEAN Community in Bangkok on October 6, the Secretary-General said despite Malaysia’s recent decision to backtrack on its commitment to the deal and the growing trade tensions between Japan and the Republic of Korea, he remains optimistic that the RCEP negotiations will continue as planned.
He added that against the backdrop of trade tension and uncertainties in the global market, ASEAN is still determined to complete the RCEP negotiations.
The bloc needs to take a pragmatic approach, he said, adding that with the significant progress in the recent negotiation round in Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang, ASEAN should do all it can to resolve and finalise the negotiations in 2019.
The latest round of the RCEP negotiation in Da Nang last month was fruitful, with negotiations on 13 out of the 20 chapters in the free trade agreement concluded.