A five-day round of negotiations to promote trade partnerships in Asia began in Kobe, western Japan, Monday morning.
Members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will discuss 13 areas, including intellectual property, service trade and the removal of tariffs, seeking to reach agreement as soon as possible.
This is the first time negotiators from the 16 RCEP countries, including Japan, China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have gathered since U.S. President Donald Trump officially announced his country’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
"We should be fully aware of recent developments in the global economy, the still subdued economic prospects, coupled with an increasing rise in protectionist sentiments," said Indonesia’s Iman Pambagyo, the RCEP trade negotiating committee chief, during his opening remarks.
"Anyone’s issue is our collective issue. We have to work together to accommodate concerns and find a global solution," Iman added.
The first round of talks took place in 2013, with the goal of establishing common trade rules in a total of 15 areas. Members initially expected to complete the negotiations by 2015, but progress has been slow, due to gaps between the likes of Japan, which is pushing for a comprehensive agreement, and countries that are less keen on trade liberalization, such as China and India. They have so far reached agreement in only two areas — small and midsize enterprises and economic cooperation.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review