Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday the breakthrough in negotiations for a major Asian trade deal will help the countries cope with risks and challenges in the face of rising protectionism.
Speaking at the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit in Bangkok, Li said 15 member states of the RCEP have concluded negotiations and made arrangements for resolving outstanding issues.
With the conclusion of the negotiations, a breakthrough has been achieved in building an East Asian free trade area that would boast the largest population, the most diversified membership structures, and the greatest potential for development in the world, Li said.
The negotiations took into full consideration the interest and concerns of relevant parties, which would speed up regional economic integration and help countries join hands to withstand risks in the face of rising protectionism, Li said.
Li said unrelenting efforts shall be made to complete consultations for a handful of outstanding issues by the end of this year and to prepare full legal documents for signing. He also called on countries to speed up domestic procedures and make sure that the deal will be signed in the next RCEP summit so that the results will benefit the people as early as possible.
"China is ready to uphold the principles of mutual understanding and accommodation and work along with countries to address issues in the negotiations with India. India is welcome to join the partnership as early as possible," Li said.
Leaders of relevant countries spoke positively about the latest achievement in the RCEP negotiations. They agreed that under the current circumstances, finalizing the RCEP negotiations sends a message that its member countries are committed to an open world economy and multilateral trade.
They agreed that concluding negotiations of the free trade deal will improve regional trade and investment environment, and facilitate trade and investment. Meanwhile, the leaders agreed that the deal is expected to help countries better cope with challenges, enhance the region's potential for development, and benefit the people within the region.
The leaders also said they look forward to signing the partnership agreement during the RCEP summit next year.
Initiated in 2012 by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the RCEP is a proposed regional free trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN and its six partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.