April 17, 2014 00:00 By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
CHINA, AS one of the world's economic giants, has urged Asean and the other five countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to finalise their free-trade agreement by the end of next year to ensure robust economic growth among the members
After recently attending the fourth RCEP meeting in Nanning, China, Somkiat Triratpan, deputy director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said all 16 countries, particularly China, showed strong commitment to support the talks and finalise the partnership within the time frame of the end of next year.
“The meeting made big progress on many issues covering trade in goods, services, invest-ment and other forms of cooperation. As the meeting’s host, China was very active in dis-playing its strong commitment to the RCEP and fully supports the advantages of the talks,” he said.
The meeting agreed to set up many working committees to follow up on negotiation issues, including trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual-property rights, trade-competition policies and economic cooperation.
Also brought up were new issues such as small and medium-sized enterprises and electronic commerce.
The RCEP countries will set up a working subcommittee to address non-tariff barriers and rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, sanitary and psyto-sanitary standards, technical rules, and investigation and certification procedures.
For services, they also made preparations for the framework for market liberalisation and the list of businesses committed to liberalisation under the agreement.
The next RCEP meeting will be held in Singapore from June 23-27. Thailand is scheduled to host the seventh round in Pattaya from February 9-13.
The RCEP consists of Asean and six of its major trading partners – China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The official talks started in 2012 to set up the world’s largest free-trade zone.