RCEP agreement: Ministers of 16 nations to finalise modalities on August 24 in Malaysia

Source: Economic Times

18 Aug 2015

NEW DELHI: As negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP) agreement progress, ministers of 16 member countries, including India and China will meet in Kuala Lumpur on August 24 to finalise the modalities of the pact.

“The talks are progressing very well. The 9th round of talks for RCEP agreement was recently concluded in Myanmar. Now in the next ministerial level meeting, the modalities would be finalised,” a senior government official told PTI.

 The deal aims to cover goods and services, investments,economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property.

Finalisation of modalities include exchange of offers in goods, services and investments.

Under these offers, the member countries are expected to disclose the number of products whose duties would be reduced to zero and goods which would not have any duty cut under the pact.

Similarly in services, the RCEP members are likely to identify sectors in which the countries can consider signing mutual recognition agreements (MRAs).

MRAs pave the way for recognition of professional body of one country by the other. Regulatory bodies of various professional services like engineering, accountancy and architecture are encouraged to enter these pacts.

The 16 ­member bloc comprises 10 ASEAN members and their six free trade agreement partners ­­ India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The meeting assumes significance as the pact is targeted to be concluded this year. But according to sources, it may take more time.

The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world economy, estimated to be more than USD 75 trillion. RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012.

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