Semarang (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Trade Minister and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers for 2023 Zulkifli Hasan stated that Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) members are open to countries looking to join the free trade agreement.

"Hence, besides our members ASEAN, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and China, if there are countries that want to join, we welcome," Hasan stated when asked about the result of the RCEP Ministers' Meeting on the sidelines of the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers' (AEM) Meeting in Semarang on Tuesday.

Zulkifli Hasan, popularly known as Zulhas, chaired a closed-door meeting of RCEP ministers on Monday that resulted in the accession procedure for countries interested in joining the RCEP.

According to the trade minister, the ministers of RCEP members also ratified the document Terms of Reference for the Establishment of the RCEP Support Unit at the ASEAN Secretariat.

The result of the meeting of RCEP ministers is one of the economic priorities during Indonesia's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2023.

The RCEP ministers also agreed to assign the RCEP Joint Committee to supervise the implementation of RCEP, so that it works smoothly, effectively, and transparently.

During the 55th AEM in Semarang, Zulhas remarked that Hong Kong expressed its interest in joining the RCEP that was conveyed during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia at the 7th AEM-HKC Consultation meeting on Sunday.

Indonesia commended Hong Kong's commitment and Zulhas vouched to help them to join.

RCEP has become a magnet for various countries, as it provides several benefits from the free trade agreement, such as eliminating 92 percent of the tariffs from traded goods between its members.

There is also an additional benefit from the agreement that is preferential market access granted for specific products, such as mineral fuels, plastics, other chemical products, and various processed foods and beverages in specific RCEP markets, such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

RCEP consists of 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and five partner countries (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand).

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Translator: Yoanita Hastryka Djohan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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