RCEP member countries reach provisional dealRegional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member countries have clinched an agreement on the major points of the FTA that hopes to remove trade barriers between 16 countries across Asia and in the Pacific region.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 15 heads of state of RCEP member countries announced in a statement that they would work to sign a finalized deal next year after reaching an agreement on the 20 chapters of the deal during the RCEP summit on Monday in Bangkok.
While India was left out of the Monday announcement, other member countries said they would work to include the country in the finalized deal.
The RCEP deal, if signed, would be the largest FTA ever and create an economic bloc that would account for one-third of the global GDP.
RCEP member countries were also responsible for 29 percent of global trade and for 48 percent of the total global population as of last year, said the Trade Ministry, citing International Monetary Fund data.
The trade deal has been pursued by the 10 Asean member countries and Korea, China, Japan India, Australia and New Zealand since 2013.
The Trade Ministry said it expects the deal to improve regional trade and investment amid recent rise of protectionist policies.
It added that the agreement will help Korean companies to enter new markets beyond the benefits provided by the current FTA between Korea and Asean.
The deal covers the newest trade norms such as on electronic trade and intellectual property clauses that were not included in the Korea-Asean FTA.
Member countries will now start legal review of the agreement, while also finalizing remaining trade negotiations.
A few member countries have to finalize negotiations regarding products, services and investment, according to the Trade Ministry.
Korea has pursued the deal actively under the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Southern Policy that aims to increase economic ties with Southeast Asian countries.
BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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