Ministers: RCEP trade pact expected to be signed in 2020


File photo: CGTN

The world's biggest trade pact RCEP will be signed later this year, participating countries said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the coronavirus pandemic had increased the deal's importance.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. India pulled out of talks last November, but members have said the door remains open to New Delhi.

China's Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan attended the virtual 10th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting. He said the RCEP will help Asia-Pacific countries to unite to respond to the epidemic challenges, reduce the negative impact of the epidemic on the economies of various countries, and inject strong momentum into the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region.

He suggested that all parties should fully promote the spirit of partnership, resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible.

In the joint statement after the meeting, ministers said: "We reaffirmed our commitment to sign the RCEP agreement this year."

"As the importance of the RCEP continues to grow in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic... the signing of the agreement will serve as a clear signal of our unwavering support for the multilateral trading system, regional integration as well as economic development across the region," said the statement.