Economic Ministers from 16 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreed to finalized the pact at the leaders meeting on November, 2019 - Photo by ASEAN Secretariat Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Economic Ministers from 16 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreed to finalized the pact on November, 2019, said the trade ministry in an official statement on Sunday (08/04). The agreement is expecting to be signed in 2020.

Before the meeting, on Friday, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) minister held a bilateral meeting in Beijing, China, discussed six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and agreed on the steps for resolution as well as the follow-up related to several sensitive issues such as the application of the Most Favored Nation, the provision of a dispute mechanism between the Investor and the Government or the Investor State Dispute Settlement and several provisions in the field of e-Commerce.

The ministry said, by agreeing on the follow-up steps, the RCEP negotiating team is expected to be able to complete negotiations on all market access and agreement texts in all areas of negotiations that are still constrained until now so that their settlement can be announced at the 3rd RCEP Summit in November 2019.

“The completion of RCEP is very important especially with the increasing trade tension lately,” said Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita in a written statement.

According to him, as the coordinator of the RCEP negotiating countries, Indonesia is committed to inviting all participating countries to collectively encourage the completion of RCEP negotiations on target. Settlement of negotiations without further delay is the joint responsibility of the 16 States Parties.

“The ministers agreed not to allow the completion and signing of the RCEP Agreement, after experiencing delays in 2015 and 2017. Delaying the completion of the negotiations means losing economic opportunities for all RCEP participants and even for the world,” said Lukita.

The minister reminded that the RCEP negotiations are the world’ largest regional pact covering 47.4 percent of the world’s population, 32.2 percent of the global economy, 29.1 percent of global trade and 32.5 percent of global investment flows.

“RCEP will be an opportunity for economic growth for all members who still have differences in economic development. Of course this opportunity can later be realized if after the RCEP Agreement is signed, all participating countries ratify and implement the Agreement,” he noted.

The Economic Ministers participating in the RCEP consisted of 10 ASEAN Economic Ministers and 6 ASEAN FTA partner Ministers, namely Australia, India, Japan, Korea, China and New Zealand.

On the sidelines of RCEP ministeraial meeting, Lukita also conducted a number of bilateral meetings with FTAs ​​partner countries such as South Korea, India and New Zealand. With South Korea, specifically the steps to resolve the Indonesia-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership (IK-CEPA) negotiations. With India and New Zealand, focused on completing the RCEP market access negotiations.

“The agreement on finalizing their negotiation on IK-CEPA by the end of 2019 is made by taking the momentum of the 30th ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit held in South Korea,” Lukita said.

The agreement was made during a bilateral meeting between the minister and South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Myung Hee Yoo. A data of Statistics Indonesia showed that the two countries’ bilateral trade in 2018 was recorded at US$18.6 billion, with Indonesia enjoyed a surplus of $443.6 million.

South Korea is the seventh largest export destination for Indonesian products and the sixth largest importer to Indonesia. The country’ export to South Korea reached $9.53 billion in 2018, or up 14 percent compared to the previous year at $8.20 billion.

While, Indonesian import from the country was recorded at $9.1 billion in 2018, or up 9 percent compared to import in 2017 at $8.12 billion.

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