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RCEP member states conclude all text negotiations

Updated: Nov 05,2019 11:30 AM    CGTN/Xinhua

Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have made a major breakthrough, according to leaders attending the 22nd ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea leaders' meeting in Bangkok on Nov 4.

Addressing the meeting, Premier Li Keqiang noted that 15 member states of the RCEP have concluded all text negotiations and essentially all market access negotiations.

That is a major breakthrough in the construction of an East Asia free trade area, which would boast the largest population, most diversified membership and greatest potential for development, said Premier Li.

The Premier added that the latest progress will certainly promote the process of regional economic integration, safeguard free trade and boost market confidence.

"On this basis, we are willing to accelerate negotiations on the China-Japan-South Korea free trade area and move toward the goal of building an East Asian economic community," said Premier Li.

Leaders attending the meeting highly appreciated the major breakthrough in RCEP negotiations, and pledged to sign an agreement in 2020, so as to promote regional trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Initiated in 2012 by ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the RCEP is a proposed regional free trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN and its six partners — China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

The meeting, also known as the ASEAN Plus Three summit, was attended by leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the summit on Nov 4.

"Given the complex and profound changes in the regional and international landscape, in particular the slowing global growth and the potential for new challenges and mounting pressures, ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, with its precious experience, can help us jointly tackle challenges," Premier Li said.

He called on the ASEAN Plus Three nations to strengthen solidarity and collaboration and expand prospects of development so as to contribute more to economic growth in the region and the world. 

The countries should make joint efforts to promote economic integration, interconnectivity, financial cooperation, sustainable development and people-to-people exchanges in the region, he noted. 

The leaders issued a statement on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative, stressing that "connectivity strategies can make a strong contribution to economic growth and enhanced links within the East Asian region."