BANGKOK: Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said Malaysia is committed to ensuring ‘free and fair trade’ aspect be part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
He said the signing of RCEP would be discussed during the ongoing 34th Asean Summit as all Asean ministers were committed to achieving mutual understanding with regard to RCEP.
“Malaysia is optimistic RCEP will be finalised, however, Malaysia does not only want free trade but also fair trade, especially for small economy countries. We want fair trade (aspect) to be emphasised.
“I am confident this matter can be concluded in the near future,” he told reporters after attending the Special Asean Economic Ministers’ Meeting on RCEP, here Saturday.
Asked whether the RCEP negotiations could be concluded tomorrow, he said: “We will not conclude (it) now.”
Yesterday, Asean chairman, who is also Thailand Prime Minister Jen Prayuth Chan o-cha, was reported as saying that Thailand was working towards expediting the process to conclude RCEP negotiations this year.
Prayuth said: “This is an agreed intention of all leaders”.
The media also reported that the Philippines’ Secretary of Trade Ramon Lopez said they had concluded seven of the 18 chapters.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 Asean member countries and six Asia Pacific nations, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The free trade agreement was officially launched at the 2012 Asean Summit in Cambodia.
RCEP has a population of 3.4 billion with GDP valued at US$49.5 trillion or 39% of global GDP.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Azmin said progress reports on East Asian Growth Area - Brunei Darussalam- Indonesia- Malaysia- Philippines (BIMP-EAGA) and Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) would be tabled tomorrow.
He said under BIMP-EAGA, 16 from 69 infrastructure projects had been implemented since 2017 while under IMT-GT, a total of 41 projects valued at US$47 billion had been implemented. - Bernama