Singapore (ANTARA News) - Heads of State of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) participants-ASEAN Member States and ASEAN`s free trade agreement partners -- Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand -- agreed to conclude RCEP negotiations in 2019.

"We reaffirmed our commitment made at the launch of the negotiations to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement establishing an open trade and investment environment in the region to facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development," according to the Joint Leaders` statement on RCEP Negotiations received here on Thursday.

The leaders noted that the task to conclude the RCEP negotiations is becoming more urgent and significant, given the current headwinds faced by the global economy.

In this regard, we undertook the collective commitment to deliver on the expeditious conclusion of the RCEP negotiations to foster an open, inclusive, and rules-based trading system, and demonstrate to the world that it is possible to make trade work for all.

"We recalled our instruction to the ministers and negotiators at the first RCEP Summit in 2017 to intensify efforts in 2018 to bring the RCEP negotiations to conclusion and demonstrate to the world that it is possible to make trade work for all," according to the statement.

The leaders welcomed the substantial progress made in RCEP negotiations in 2018. We have advanced to the final stage of negotiations. We are determined to conclude a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial RCEP in 2019.

The leaders welcomed the conclusion of seven Chapters to date -- the Chapters on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Small and Medium Enterprises, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, Government Procurement, Institutional Provisions, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures -- of which five were concluded in this year alone.

The heads of state highlighted the need to heighten this momentum to bring all remaining Chapters and Annexes to conclusion.

"We reiterated the value of continued engagement with various stakeholders of the RCEP, including representatives from the business sector, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders, in ensuring that RCEP remains inclusive," the statement noted.

Given the significant progress achieved this year, there is a strong resolve for RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) to build on the current momentum and bring RCEP negotiations to a conclusion by next year, according to a statement.

Towards this end, all RPCs will allocate and commit resources necessary to conclude negotiations in 2019.

"All RPCs will also seek creative, pragmatic, realistic, and mutually acceptable solutions to the remaining issues without undermining the objective to achieve comprehensive, balanced, and commercially meaningful outcomes," the leaders stated.


(T.A063/A/KR-BSR/A/R013) 15-11-2018 16:31:58

Reporter: Azis Kurmala
Editor: Andi Abdussalam
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