JAKARTA, Nov 17 — The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) shows the rest of the world that signatory countries believe in open and rule-based trade, said Chief of the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee of ASEAN, Iman Pambagyo.
“The comprehensive nature of the agreement as well as the principle of “simultaneous start, differentiated timetable” also provide a good example on how countries who are willing to support each other may address the issue of development gaps under a trade agreement,” he told the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) correspondent in Jakarta via email.
ASEAN is at the centre of all so it is important for the grouping to take this journey in the context of realising the ASEAN Economic Community 2025 and beyond, he said.
He thanked the government of Vietnam for lending its political support to the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee to push hard the negotiation on the remaining difficult issues before the deal was officially signed by 15 member countries on Sunday.
He described it as the largest trade deal outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that ASEAN and its five partners managed to accomplish.
He also urged all signatories to not be complacent as the road ahead will be equally challenging: to implement all the commitments fully and faithfully.
“It may be difficult at the time of departure but we should help each other to make sure that the agreement can enter into force soon and everybody lives with their commitments.”
He called on ASEAN countries to focus on what they are best at and not to push hard to produce everything behind the borders.
“Key to ASEAN would be capitalising on the RCEP regional value chains and establishing ASEAN as the RCEP “power house” to capture not only the RCEP markets, but also the global markets,” he said.