Ministers from the 16 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Participating Countries yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to signing the RCEP agreement in November, insisting they will invite India to return to the negotiating table.
Vice Minister for Commerce Sansern Samalapa said yesterday the countries had reached agreements on all pending issues for 2020. The ministers confirmed their readiness to sign the RCEP agreement at the fourth RCEP summit in November 2020 and welcome back India if the country wishes to re-enter into negotiations.
The vice minister said the member countries believed that India's participation would contribute to the region's growth.
The RCEP held its eighth video conference with delegates from Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand on Thursday.
The ministers agreed that the region's market needed to be more open to accommodate flows of essential goods and services.
Signing the RCEP agreement would help boost confidence in the business sector and promote multilateral trade, said the vice minister. He expressed his confidence the deal would help expedite the region's economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The RCEP is now the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world. Its 16 members include 10 Asean member countries and six dialogue partners (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India).
The RCEP has a population of almost 3.6 billion people or 48.1% of the world population. In 2019, the combined GDP of the grouping was worth more than US$28.5 trillion or around 32.7% of the world's GDP.
Thailand's trade value with the RCEP member countries is currently worth $280 billion -- 59.5% of the country's total trade value.
Thailand exports over $140 billion worth of goods to the 15 member countries or 57% of its total exports.