Bloc poised to ramp up trade further
As Asean marks its 50th anniversary, it has announced its goal to ramp up trade both within the bloc and with six other nations in a partnership deal.
Asean is aiming to expand to be a part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is expected to become the world's largest trading bloc next year, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said Thursday.
After attending the Asean Summit Meeting early this week in the Philippines, Ms Apiradi said at the "Asean@50: In Retrospect" seminar Thursday held by the Bangkok Post that Asean government heads have agreed to help expedite negotiations leading to the RCEP's formation.
"The leaders instructed us to intensify efforts in 2018 to bring the RCEP negotiations to a conclusion, and decided to ensure they have the necessary support to achieve this outcome," Ms Apiradi said.
"Once an RCEP agreement becomes effective, it will represent a regional economic bloc that covers a population of three billion and accounts for one-third of total global GDP."
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The RCEP will also significantly contribute to the utilisation of global value chains, harmonisation of regulations and facilitation of trade, as well as shared benefits among the 10 Asean countries and six dialogue partners: India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, she said.
The partnership could become the world's largest trading bloc, with total trade value worth up to US$9.7 trillion (322 trillion baht) a year, accounting for 29% of global trade value, according to Commerce Ministry data.
In this regard, she said Asean leaders recognised the significance of the RCEP as a "vehicle for economic integration and inclusive development".
For Asean, Ms Apiradi said it has marked impressive success as a closed trade grouping of its members in the single Asean Economic Community. Asean was established in 1967 with just five members.