Somkid asks Japan to help clinch RCEP
Thailand has urged Japan to help finalise the long-delayed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), talks for which are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The RCEP negotiations were discussed at a meeting on Saturday between Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Hideki Makihara, a senior vice-minister of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits.
Mr Somkid said he asked the Japanese vice-minister to support the formation of the 16-member regional trading bloc, as both countries agree the RCEP deal will drive the region's growth and help trade and investments.
The RCEP comprises 10 Asean nations and six trading partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Trade negotiators from the 16 countries have locked horns over issues contained in the pact's 20 chapters for several years.
Six remaining chapters have yet to be agreed on -- namely trade competition rules, and measures to mitigate the negative side-effects of RCEP. The partnership seeks to deepen economic relationships between its signatories through free trade.
The 3rd RCEP Summit is scheduled on Monday.
Mr Somkid said the meeting also touched on advancing bilateral cooperation between Thailand and Japan, via the "Open Innovation Columbus" initiative and the Thai government's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) flagship policy.
Mr Makihara will witness the signing of six agreements between Thai and Japanese private firms under the "Open Innovation Columbus" scheme to support and create new startups locally, according to Mr Somkid.
Thailand and Japan have partnered in the scheme to strengthen the capacity of their countries' startups to do business overseas. Under the scheme, the governments will launch a startup innovation hub as a research and development centre for new technology to support SMEs from both countries.