Reportedly, Southeast Asian nations are determined to ink a mega Asia Pacific trade agreement in 2020 that will form a most important trading bloc covering about third of the world’s GDP (gross domestic product), as stated by Thailand. Many were expecting that at least some “considerable conclusion” to the years-long conciliations in the 16-member RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) will be reached in Bangkok. The chiefs of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) were in Thailand for the 35th ASEAN Conference in addition to meetings with top trading associates like China and India. Thailand—which at present holds the ASEAN chairmanship—in a statement reported that the group “well received the conclusion of the RCEP conciliations and the obligation to ink the RCEP Pact in 2020.”
It said, “This will appreciably add to an inclusive, open and rules-based global trading system and development of value chains.” Mahathir Mohamad—Malaysian Prime Minister—said to CNBC that he expected the deal will be inked “as early as possible.” He added the hold-up was owing to “some minor problems” that he felt member countries will be able to overcome since “the rewards will be extremely staggering as the huge population will be involved in it.”
On a related note, lately, India said it is not ready to join a major Asia Pacific trade deal. India refused to join an Asia Pacific trade pact that will create a major trading bloc involving the region’s biggest economies and cover about a third of the global output. Vijay Thakur Singh—Diplomat in charge (East Asian relations for India) at the Ministry of External Affairs—stated that India conveyed its verdict to not join the RCEP deal to other member states. “This shows our assessment of the present global situation in addition to the equality and balance of the agreement.”
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