RCEP pact set for leaders' talks

RCEP pact set for leaders' talks

Asean to mull new trade deal prospects

Filipino government security forces stand in formation Sunday during deployment for the Asean Summit and Related Meetings in Manila, beginning on Friday. (EPA photo)
Filipino government security forces stand in formation Sunday during deployment for the Asean Summit and Related Meetings in Manila, beginning on Friday. (EPA photo)

The next step for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be discussed at the leaders' meeting on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Manila.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will join the 31st Asean Summit and related summits on Nov 13-14 in Manila, the Philippines.

The Asean leaders will also have meetings with external partners China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the United Nations (UN), the 20th Asean Plus Three Meeting, and the 12th East Asia Summit. There will also be summits to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Asean-US, Asean-Canada, and the Asean-European Union (EU), Suriya Chindawongse, director-general of the department of Asean Affairs said.

US President Donald Trump will join the US-Asean Summit on Nov 13. President Trump has embarked on his first official visit to Asia, which lasts until Nov 14, with stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam -- where he will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit--before going to Manila.

The RCEP was launched in November 2012 with the aim of establishing deeper economic cooperation among the 10 Asean members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and six dialogue partners in Asean Plus Six (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand). The member countries represent 29% of global trade.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn earlier said the conclusion of the RCEP-Trade Negotiating Committee meeting, held late last month, will be submitted at the Asean summit, where a decision will be made on the framework.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the 16 members of the RCEP are scheduled to meet on Nov 14, Mr Suriya said. Asean leaders will also meet the Asean Business Advisory Council and attend the Asean Plus Three Leaders Interface with the East Asia Business Council.

Gen Prayut will also attend the 9th Mekong-Japan Summit on the sidelines of the Asean Summit. It is expected the leaders will discuss the next 20-30 years in anticipation of a rules-based and people-centred Asean Community spanning political and security, economics, and socio-cultural dimensions.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai will join the 16th Asean Political-Security Community Council Meeting and the 20th Asean Coordinating Council Meeting on Nov 12 to prepare for the 31st Asean Summit.

The US has been asked to consider participating in the RCEP pact after its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) earlier this year.

The RCEP is now viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which excludes China and India, and includes several nations from the Americas. Among the 16 members which form the RCEP, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and India are not members of Apec.

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