Singapore and South Korea on Thursday vowed to conclude the prolonged negotiations for a regional free trade agreement, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), before this year-end.
This followed talks here between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loongo and came amid the rise of protectionism, as well as an unprecedented trade war between the world's two largest economies -- the US and China.
Moon is in Singapore for a three-day state visit ending on Friday.
"Today, our two countries agreed to cooperate on the conclusion of RCEP negotiations within the year. The most important issue in RCEP negotiations is not the level of market liberalisation but its timing. By concluding the negotiations at the earliest date possible, we may be able to create a new wave in global trade amid a spread of trade protectionism," Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying later at a business forum.
Currently, 16 countries are taking part in RCEP negotiations. They are South Korea, China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and all 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that includes Singapore.
If signed, RCEP is expected to be one of the largest regional free trade pacts with its member states accounting for half of global production and 29 percent of global trade in 2016.
-- (UNI) -- C-1-1-DL0464-1435829.Xml