The 28th round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Da Nang, Vietnam on Sept 19-27 were very fruitful and led to the conclusion of 13 of the 20 chapters in the proposed free trade agreement, the Commerce Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry will next seek guidance on the remaining chapters from Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit before Thailand hosts the 9th RCEP ministerial meeting in Bangkok on Oct 12, said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department. All RCEP chapters are expected to be concluded on later this year, she said.
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. When the agreement is reached, the RCEP will cover nearly half of the global economy.
"Representatives of the 16 RCEP countries became more flexible at the Da Nang round of negotiations, which yielded this very impressive progress after seven years of negotiations dragging on," said Ms Auramon.
Separately in New York, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai called for partnership in the face of misguided nationalism and anti-globalism at the end of the week-long 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking at the General Debate in the General Assembly Hall, Mr Don addressed the difficulty of urging all countries to end their winner-takes-all zero-sum mentality.
"We shall sink or swim together, not alone, and not at the expense of the drowning of others. It is a not such a bad cliche at this juncture to say that we are in the same boat, and we are all in it together," he said. Moreover, Mr Don expressed concern over rising counter-globalism.
"The movement, such as xenophobic populism, stems mainly from the people's disenfranchisement from economic globalisation ... Many of the anti-globalism activists do not oppose globalisation in general. They just want to change the way it has been allowed to run unabated, that results in exclusion, alienation, human rights violations, unfair trade and 'development' that is detrimental, not beneficial to the many segments of society," he said.
In response to these trends, Mr Don said Thailand has implemented more people-centric policies.