World / China-ASEAN meetings

Intensified efforts urged to conclude RCEP talks by 2016

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-22 19:38

KUALA LUMPUR - Enhanced efforts were called for to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks next year at the ongoing 27th ASEAN leaders' summit and related meetings.

"Substantial progress" had been made at the RCEP talks with many fundamental issues resolved, said a joint statement issued at the summit on Sunday.

Launched in November 2012, the RCEP talks involved 10 ASEAN member states and six dialogue partners - China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India - with an aim to facilitate expansion of regional trade and investment and were scheduled for completion in 2015.

By far, 10 rounds of negotiations had been completed in addition to four ministerial-level meetings.

However, considering the challenges faced and value of constructive engagements, more time was needed to conclude the negotiations, the statement said.

"We request our negotiators to intensify efforts to conclude and achieve a mutually beneficially and high-quality agreement in 2016."

China on Saturday also called on East Asian nations to accelerate their economic integration and safeguard regional stability.

Putting forward a six-point proposal, Premier Li Keqiang said at the 18th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting that China stood ready to work with other parties to conclude the prolonged RCEP negotiation by 2016 to promote trade and regional integration.

The RCEP could potentially lead to one of the world's biggest trade area covering about 3.4 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of about 22.7 trillion U.S. dollars, about 30 percent of the global output.

When concluded, RCEP is expected to deliver tangible benefits to businesses through potential improvements in market access, trade facilitation, regulatory reform and more trade-facilitative rules of origin.

Under the theme "Our People, Our Community, Our Vision," the two-day summit issued the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community, signaling the formal creation the community by Dec. 31 this year.

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