Leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member states have urged that prolonged negotiation should end by next year in a joint declaration released on Nov 22.
Premier Li Keqiang and leaders from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, together with leaders from the member states of ASEAN attended the announcement in Kuala Lumpur.
RCEP leaders welcomed substantial progress and urged stepping up the work needed to conclude negotiation by 2016.
The declaration states that it is an important path for regional economic integration and that the RCEP is of great importance to improve people’s living standards in the region.
It can help promote equal economic development and strengthen economic bonds among the countries.
Negotiations began officially in May 2013. So far, 10 rounds and four meetings of economic and trade ministers have been held with goals to reach a modern, comprehensive and mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA).
With about half the world’s population, the RCEP has nearly one-third of the world’s total GDP and trade volume. Foreign capital held by the RCEP accounts for nearly one-third of the world’s total.
The negotiations are the largest FTA talks in the Asian region and the largest free trade zone negotiation China has ever participated in.