|The opening ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on November 3 (Photo: VNA)
The ASEAN Summit began on November 2 with one of its focuses being reaching consensus on the creation of the world's largest trade deal, which will cover half of the global population and about 40 percent of the world’s commerce.
Negotiations on the RCEP started in 2013 with the initial target of finalising it in 2015. The pact gathers the 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.
Philippine Secretary Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez said he hoped to have a very positive report on RCEP on November 4, when the summit ends. However, the treaty's signing would happen only within next year, with members meeting in February to sort out pending issues on market access.
The RCEP members have concluded negotiations on 18 of the around 20 areas but apparently have yet to agree on key fields such as tariffs, trade in services, market access, and investment.