(ECNS) - Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have accelerated in pace, said Gao Yan, vice minister of the Commerce Ministry, in Beijing on Tuesday.
The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) scheme of the 10 ASEAN member states and their FTA partners, namely China, Australia, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and New Zealand.
RCEP negotiations have been held for 22 rounds. At the 5th RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo, all parties agreed that it is crucial to conclude negotiations as soon as possible in the context of the current challenges to global trade from moves towards unilateralism, said Gao, adding that efforts will be made to form achievements before the end of the year.
At a press conference held by the State Council Information Office, Gao said RCEP negotiations are moving steadily and have made positive progress in various fields.
The parties have shown a positive attitude towards advancing the negotiations, and the pace of negotiations is accelerating, according to Gao.
Gao also said China will, as always, respect and support the core role of ASEAN, play a constructive role, and promote a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial agreement as soon as possible.
Data show that the RCEP covered more than 3.5 billion people at the end of 2017, accounting for nearly 48 percent of the world’s population, while its GDP reached $23.8 trillion, more than 31 percent of the world’s total.
The Ministry of Commerce previously said the RCEP can promote the mutual opening of members, stimulate market potential, promote regional economic integration, and oppose trade protectionism.