ASEAN’s re­gional trade pact gain­ing grow­ing mo­men­tum

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is deputy ed­i­tor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pa­cific. jas­mine@chi­nadai­

The Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Partn­er­ship has come into the global spot­light with the im­mi­nent demise of the Trans-Pa­cific Partn­er­ship Agree­ment. And the con­clu­sion of the 16th round of RCEP ne­go­ti­a­tions in In­done­sia last week sug­gests there is greater con­sen­sus and con­fi­dence among the par­tic­i­pants that they will be able to strike an agree­ment at an early date.

Chap­ter two of the trade pact, on smal­land medium- en­ter­prises, was com­pleted, mark­ing a sig­nif­i­cant progress in the RCEP since its ini­ti­a­tion in 2012. The pre­vi­ous chap­ter, fo­cus­ing on eco­nomic and tech­ni­cal co­op­er­a­tion, had been achieved with 15 rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ef­forts still need to be made in other ar­eas like goods, ser­vices, in­vest­ments, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and move­ment of la­bor. But, fu­eled by en­thu­si­asm from mem­bers in­clud­ing In­done­sia, Malaysia, Aus­tralia and China, there is ob­vi­ous op­ti­mism that the RCEP ne­go­ti­a­tions might be com­pleted next year.

Since US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said last month that he would scrap the TPP “from day one” in of­fice, the in­evitable US with­drawal from the TPP has rekin­dled hopes that the RCEP will play a lead­ing role in re­gional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and in­te­gra­tion.

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