Economic ministers from 16 Asian-Pacific countries acknowledged on September 10 that no agreement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be finalised by year-end.
The ministers involving in negotiating RCEP, an alternative trade pact to the floundering Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact in Manila, the Philippines, said they will strive to make major progress by November when the leaders of the 16 nations meet in Manila.
The RCEP is the only option given the current negotiations of the TPP, said Philippine trade undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.
The RCEP participating countries abandoned the target of concluding the negotiations within this year due to differences in tariff reduction or elimination targets as well as services to be opened up, according to Rodolfo.
Those 16 nations are China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.
The RCEP is viewed as an extended trade agreement of ASEAN with its partners, covering half the world’s population, and 30 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).