Update: 08:30 | 31/08/2020
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has agreed to prioritise its signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with six free trade partners by the end of this year.
The six partners are China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
The information was unveiled by Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at an August 30 press conference on the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and related meetings.
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at the press conference.
According to the minister, most of the major issues in the RCEP negotiations have been handled satisfactorily, with ASEAN ministers giving specific directions, including those on legal review, to boost preparation for the signing and to facilitate the engagement of India in the process.
There is a need for another conference this October to review the preparation before reporting the work at the ASEAN Summit in the following month, he added.
The official said the pact is always a prioritised content in Vietnam’s integration strategy.
The RCEP deal aims to establish common rules for e-commerce, trade and intellectual property. It will cover a third of the global economy and half the world's population, if India is included, with its GDP accounting for 32 percent of the global GDP.
Concerning the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and related meetings that ran from August 22 to 29, the minister said it was the most important event of the bloc’s economic channel this year.
At the their meeting, ASEAN economic ministers agreed to continue carrying out initiatives and economic priorities set by Vietnam as the Chair of ASEAN this year. Two initiatives on ASEAN digital integration indicator and terms of reference (TOR) on connecting ASEAN innovation centres have been completed, while the remaining 11 ones are under implementation to be done by year’s end.
In addition, ASEAN member nations approved the import tariff in implementing the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA); completed procedures for the signing of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Type Approval for Automotive Products (AP MRA); and agreed to conduct the ASEAN-Wide Self Certification Scheme (AWSC) starting September 20 this year.
They also discussed and sought solutions to the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 in line with the new regional context as well as orientations to build a master plan for ASEAN’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Their discussions also covered the enhancement of cooperation between the bloc and a number of partners like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.
Economic ministers from ASEAN member nations and the three partners of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (known as ASEAN +3) passed an action plan on easing Covid-19 economic impact and a joint initiative on economic connection to fight the pandemic.
The ASEAN ministers agreed to maintain open trade and investment market, limit the application of unnecessary trade barriers, increase measures to facilitate trade to stabilise production, and sustain supply chain linkages.