|Title||Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): Progress and Challenges|
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an ongoing free trade agreement involving ASEAN member states (AMSs) and six trading partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. RCEP negotiations were launched in November 2012, and 18 rounds of negotiation have been held, along with six ministerial meetings and three intersessional meetings. Two chapters, namely "Economic and Technical Cooperation" and "Small and Medium-sized Enterprises," have been concluded, and other chapters are still in progress with some of them nearing conclusion.
With the global trade slowdown, the importance of the RCEP to keep markets open and deepen integration is increasing. RPCs should continue their efforts to reach high-standard and economically meaningful outcomes. The agreed outcome should be able to reduce intra-regional transaction costs through simplification and harmonization of rules of origin, customs procedures and standards. Since RPCs have already established over-lapping FTAs with member countries, it needs significant improvements over the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs to induce economically meaningful gains from the RCEP.