U Thaung Tun, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, attended the 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 1-2 March 2019.
At the opening session of the meeting held in Sokha Seam Reap Resort and Convention Center, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, delivered the keynote address. In his address, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of RCEP initiative in transforming the Asian Economy. He recalled the background of the RCEP Agreement and expressed appreciation to all participating countries for their untiring efforts.
He underscored that Cambodia and ASEAN Member States are highly committed to adhering to the multilateral regime and international cooperation, and to uplifting the multilateral trading system which is open as a basis for growth and regional and global development. He expressed the hope that the negotiations on RCEP trade pact will be concluded by the end of the year.
The RCEP, a proposed free trade agreement between 10 ASEAN Member States and 6 of the partners -Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand-is expected to be one of the largest trade blocs, accounting for 45 per cent of world’s population, 40 per cent of global trade and around one third of the world’s GDP. The talks on RCEP was launched in 2012.
At the meeting, the Union Minister commended the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) for the good progress made to-date on both market access and text-based negotiations but at the same time recognized that more work still needs to be done to advance both aspects of the negotiations. He urged all RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) to address specific sensitivities while working towards achieving commercially meaningful outcomes.
He also urged all RPCs to intensify engagement for the remainder of the year.
In the sideline of the meeting, the ASEAN Member Countries and Japan signed the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.