Talks to resume in Da Nang
Asean economic ministers have agreed to finish negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by November, said deputy prime minister and commerce minister Jurin Laksanavisit on Tuesday.
Speaking at the conclusion of the 51th Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting in Bangkok on Tuesday, Mr Jurin expressed confidence that disagreements on the opening of the market to goods, services and investment from outside of Asean will be resolved.
"For example, in the Asean-India meeting today, India insisted it is ready to see RCEP negotiations conclude in November," he said.
As such, Mr Jurin added, the ministers should push delegates to the senior officials meeting on RCEP -- which is set to be held in Da Nang, Vietnam, later this month -- to thrash out their differences as soon as possible.
Another ministerial-level meeting will be held in November, ahead of the Asean Summit, when Thailand will pass on the Asean chairmanship to Vietnam, he said.
Across Asean, growth has remained broadly stable. In 2018, the bloc managed to maintain its average, aggregated economic growth rate at 5.2% -- similar to last year's figure.
That said, economic growth is expected to taper slightly in 2019, when it is expected to average at about 4.8%, before recovering to 4.9% in 2020.
The bloc collectively reported higher trade and foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2018. Trade in goods in Asean went up 8.7%, while trade in services increased by 10.6%.
Total FDI inflows to the region increased by 5.3% year-on-year to reach US$154.7 billion, with the services sector having the largest share at 60.7%.