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ASEAN aims to wrap up RCEP deal in 2018

If realised, the free trade agreement between the 10 Asean members and their six dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea - will create the world's largest trading bloc, covering almost a third of the global economy.

Le said he believed cooperation between the two sides will be bolstered by the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Together, the group encompasses a population of 3.4 billion people and a combined GDP of US$49.5 trillion, or approximately 39% of the global economy.

RCEP is an FTA scheme of the 10 ASEAN member states and its six FTA partners - China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

"India would like to develop regional partnerships and relationships", he said, adding that the ongoing mid-term review of the Foreign Trade Policy would be presented soon.

Despite the strained relations between the Philippines and the European Union, Lopez noted that ASEAN under President Rodrigo Duterte's chairmanship moved to resume negotiations for a regional FTA with the European Union.

The conclusion of RCEP will lead to the creation of the world's largest trade bloc and underscore the potential for the RCEP to serve as an engine for global growth.

"So far 20 rounds of negotiations and nine meetings at the ministerial levels have been held", he told a press conference with Malaysian journalists here today.

"We hereby instruct our Ministers and negotiators to intensify efforts in 2018 to bring the RCEP negotiations to conclusion, and resolve to ensure they have the necessary support to achieve this outcome", ASEAN said in a statement.

However, it is not clear if the leaders of RCEP countries will in fact be able to set or announce a new target date for completing negotiations in 2018 as the negotiations are complicated, and India is against doing so, one Asean source said.

Mr Lukita said he urged RCEP countries with excessively high standards to reduce their expectations and be "more realistic and flexible".

The prime minister articulated Indias position about RCEP as well as its various aspects. "We are ready to contribute to Asean's success in an increasingly globalised world by joining the East Asia Summit.at the earliest opportunity", he said.

He said that ASEAN and China have set the target of scaling up two-way trade to 1 trillion US dollars and bilateral investment to 150 billion USA dollars by 2020.

Source: The Insider Car News

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