RCEP partners miss third deadline and push negotiations through November 2018

Participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) held the 20th round of negotiations in Incheon, Korea, from October 17 to 28, 2017. Leaders also held the first ever RCEP summit in Manila, Philippines on November 14, 2017 after two days of preparatory meetings.

The Joint Leaders’ Statement issued at the end of the summit indicates that RCEP will include “agreed provisions which maintain the right of Participating Countries to address legitimate public policy purposes.” The current outline of the agreement, attached to the statement, also indicates that “the Investment Chapter would create an enabling investment environment in the region covering the four pillars of investments—protection, liberalization, promotion, and facilitation.”

Leaders agreed to intensify negotiations throughout 2018. They set a new target to sign the agreement during the ASEAN summit in Singapore in November 2018. Negotiations were officially launched in 2012, and negotiating deadlines were missed three times, in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The 16 RCEP partners comprise the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) in addition to Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. Together, the countries cover roughly a third of the global economy and half of the world’s population.