The Economic Ministers of the ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand have recognised the critical importance of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in light of ongoing uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A joint statement issued in Kuala Lumpur by the ministers, who met today, said the signing of the RCEP Agreement would enhance business confidence, strengthen the regional economic architecture and maintain the stability of the regional and global industrial and supply chains, as well as demonstrate the region’s support for an open, inclusive, and rules-based multilateral trading system. The statement added that the ministers also underscored the significant role that the RCEP Agreement could play in post-pandemic recovery efforts, as well as in contributing to the growth and stability of the regional and global economy.
The ministers also acknowledged that the challenge, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the trade and investment performance among the RCEP participating countries (RPCs). “This challenge made it imperative for countries in the region, including those participating in the RCEP negotiations, to not only keep their markets open, particularly for essential goods and services, but also boost joint cooperation and collaboration in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic,” it said.
It said the ministers were pleased with the significant progress made towards finalising the RCEP Agreement for signing at the Fourth RCEP Summit in November 2020. “They also reiterated that the RCEP remains open for India, given that not only had it participated in the RCEP negotiations since they were launched in 2012, but also in recognition of the potential of India to contribute to the region’s prosperity,” it added.