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RCEP in spotlight at 37th ASEAN Summit: The Strait Times 

 Saturday, November 14,2020

AsemconnectVietnam - The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be in the spotlight at the 37th ASEAN Summit which is virtually hosted by Vietnam from November 12 – 15, according to Singapore’s The Strait Times.

The conclusion of the region-wide trade deal has been a key goal of the grouping this year, the newspaper said. If everything falls into place, the RCEP will be the world's largest trade pact, even without the inclusion of India which pulled out last year.

The deal involves 15 countries, including ASEAN's 10 member states, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they contribute about one-third of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

ASEAN alone has a population of nearly 640 million people and a combined GDP of 2.57 trillion USD. The bloc is forecast to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030.

Senior Indonesian trade official Iman Pambagyo, who chairs the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee, told The Straits Times that participating countries hope the agreement will drive economic recovery in the next two years in the region, where a regional supply chain has been built, thanks to existing free trade deals between ASEAN and its trading partners.

Against the backdrop of low confidence in the multilateral trading system, ongoing trade tensions amongst a number of countries, rising protectionism and the impact of COVID-19, the signing of the RCEP is a signal to the world and businesses that countries in this region remain optimistic and have a forward-looking orientation in terms of deepening and expanding regional economic integration to play a bolder role in the global value chain, Iman said.

On November 12, ASEAN leaders will have their annual summits with China, India, Japan and the RoK. The ASEAN-Japan Summit will see the launch of the new ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED). The inaugural ASEAN Women Leaders' Summit will also take place later the same day.

On November 14, ASEAN leaders will have summits with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the ASEAN Plus Three Summit with China, Japan and the RoK. The East Asia Summit (EAS) will cap that day's meetings./.



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