RCEP negotiations advance, but final agreement is postponed for 2019

Leaders from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) met in Singapore in the margins of the 33rd ASEAN Summit. A joint statement indicated that the RCEP talks “have advanced to the final stage of the negotiations,” but mentioned that the deal will not be completed this year, as initially expected. They welcomed the conclusion of seven chapters out of the overall accord “on economic and technical cooperation, small and medium-sized enterprises, customs procedures and trade facilitation, government procurement, institutional provisions, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures.” They also referred to the need for dealing with remaining gaps on market access. RCEP would be composed by the 10 countries of ASEAN together with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.