The 16 ministers of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) participating countries expressed collective determination to conclude the negotiations this year after reaching a critical milestone, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
Lopez in a statement said the ministers mandated the negotiating teams to finish the last pending items on market access as well as a couple of issues on rules before the end of the month. This mandate was given at the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting on September 8 in Bangkok.
To ensure the agreement will be concluded, the ministers committed to exert utmost flexibility, and provide appropriate resources for the negotiations.
Lopez said the conclusion of the RCEP would help bring back the confidence to the international trading system and help ensure a more stable environment in trade and investment.
The agreement will also help level the playing field and help contribute in building a free and fair market in the region.
“For the Philippines, this agreement is envisaged to achieve greater market access for goods, services, and investments, and provide a business friendly and trade facilitative rules for businesses and investors.” Lopez said.
The final round of negotiation is scheduled on September 19 to 28in Danang, Vietnam.