RCEP trade pact on track to be signed by year end: Minister
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement remains on track to be signed by the year end, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in an interview yesterday, during which he stressed the importance of international cooperation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Everyone agrees that it's really important for us to sign the RCEP this year to bolster the confidence of the global economy and the regional economy, especially in such a difficult moment," Mr Chan told reporters during the virtual interview.
"At this point in time, we are still on track for the signing by the RCEP countries at the end of the year," he said.
The RCEP is set to be the world's largest trade pact and involves 15 countries: all 10 Asean nations, as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
India withdrew from the deal last year.
Mr Chan said he and his counterparts from other nations agree that recovery from the current crisis will require long-term cooperation.
"We need to not just manage the current situation, which is the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, but we also need to give confidence for the longer-term economic prospects for our regional countries," he said.
This will require doing "new things to allow our economies to recover and to grow", such as by participating in more regional agreements, said Mr Chan.
Many countries have now volunteered to sign the joint ministerial statement initiated by Singapore and New Zealand on maintaining the connectivity of the global supply chain, he said.
"As we see more and more countries coming on board, we stay encouraged that we have many like-minded countries that are not just playing defensive about managing the fallout from the Covid-19 situation, but they are also looking forward to plans to allow our economies to reach new heights going forward." - TIFFANY FUMIKO TAY