President Jokowi to continue RCEP negotiations during ASEAN Summit in Singapore

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) will continue negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the 33rd ASEAN Summit scheduled for November 13-15 in Singapore.

The president held a limited meeting with his ranks and files at the Presidential Office here on Thursday to discuss preparations for his overseas trip next week.

During the ASEAN Summit, the president will focus on RCEP in which Indonesia is chairman of the negotiating team, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said following the meeting.

RCEP is a proposed international free trade agreement (FTA) among 10 ASEAN member states — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — and six Asia-Pacific countries with whom ASEAN has existing FTAs — Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

“If (the negotiations) are concluded, the 16 countries will become a large building block for trade. The president will deliver the message to continue the negotiations during the RCEP Summit,” Retno said.

She added leaders of the 16 countries will give more commitments to get the RCEP negotiations concluded soon.

However, she added the negotiations involving the 16 countries will not be easy to conclude.

Citing an example, she said ASEAN member states themselves also need to negotiate RCEP although they have had their own commitments.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, the negotiations also involve India, China, Australia and New Zealand, she said.

“Therefore, we will always try to bridge the gap between the two positions,” she said.

In essence, RCEP leaders will give more commitments to conclude the RCEP negotiations soon, she said.

She said RCEP is not intended to build a new block but to strengthen regional cooperation including economic and maritime sectors.

In addition, President Jokowi will deliver the concept of Indo-Pacific particularly during the East Asia Summit (EAS).

“At least in the past half year, we have conducted intensive consultations with both ASEAN member states and ASEAN partners,” she noted.

Source: ANTARA News