BANGKOK : Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan O-Cha has urged Asean member states to expedite the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within this year to support post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
He said the outbreak had transformed Thailand and the global community into the “new normal” way of life while the world was moving into a volatile geopolitical phase which had impacted international security and stability.
“Through advancing economic integration and expediting the signing of the RCEP within this year, Aseanwill recover economically,” he said during the 36th ASEAN Summit today, which was held virtually and hosted by Vietnam.
Prayuth proposed three paths for action to advance Asean in the post-Covid19 era – more connected Asean, stronger Asean and better-immuned Asean.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) in the Indo-Pacific region between ASEAN members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and five of the association’s FTA partners — Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The RCEP, which went through seven years of intense negotiations, was successfully wrapped up at the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, last year. India did not join as it had significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved.
Once concluded and signed, the RCEP will be the largest FTA in the world covering nearly half of the world’s population while contributing one-third of the world’s gross domestic product.
In a joint statement issued on the 10th Regional Inter-sessional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting hosted by Vietnam on Tuesday, all 10 member states of Asean and five participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to sign the trade deal this year.
“As the importance of the RCEP continues to grow in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we shared the view that the signing of the agreement will serve as a clear signal of our unwavering support for the multilateral trading system, regional integration as well as economic development across the region,” said the joint statement.