On August 2-3, 2019, the Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was held in Beijing. This is an important ministerial meeting held at the key stage of the RCEP negotiations and the first RCEP ministerial meeting held in China. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council Hu Chunhua attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan attended the meeting with the trade ministers from 16 countries including ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India and the ASEAN Secretary General. Attending were representative Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of Finance Zou Jiayi, and representatives from the Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and the General Administration of Customs.

This meeting has made important progress in advancing the negotiations. In terms of market access, more than two-thirds of bilateral market access negotiations have concluded and the remaining negotiations are actively moving forward. Regarding the negotiations of rules, three new parts including financial services, telecommunications services and professional services have been completed. All parties have agreed on more than 80% of the texts of the agreement, and the rest rules negotiations are coming to an end.

The ministers of the participating countries said that the RCEP is essential to promoting trade development in the Asia-Pacific region, maintaining an open, inclusive and rule-based trade system, and creating the regional policy environment conducive to trade and investment development. All parties should maintain active negotiation momentum and pragmatically reduce and resolve the remaining divergences in order to achieve the goal of ending the negotiations within 2019, which was set up by the RCEP Leaders’ Meeting last year.

In his speech, Minister Zhong Shan fully affirmed the fruitful results of the 27th round of Zhengzhou negotiations and this ministerial meeting. He emphasized that the early conclusion of the RCEP agreement is conducive to maintaining economic globalization and free trade, achieving mutual benefits and win-win results for all countries. Zhang Shan called for all parties to achieve the goal of ending negotiations with full sprints within this year.

The RCEP negotiations were initiated by ASEAN in 2012 and the members include the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. RCEP covers 47.4% of the global population, 32.2% of the global GDP, 29.1% of the global trade and 32.5% of the global investment. It is currently the largest free trade agreement negotiation in Asia, and it is also the free trade zone negotiation with the largest number of members, the largest scale and the widest influence that China has participated in.

Approved by:MINISTRY OF COMMERCE,PRC     Supported by:China International Electronic Commerce Center