Asean Summit to Close Negotiations on the World’s Largest FTA

The Finance Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held talks Saturday to end negotiations this year on what could be the largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the world.

At a meeting as part of the 34th Summit of the ASEAN, which is meeting in the Thai capital until Sunday, participants assessed the progress of the process of creating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and expressed the will to speed it.

If completed, this pact will gather 16 Asia-Pacific countries, half of the world’s population and almost a third of the global Gross Domestic Product, which will be the largest free trade area on the planet.

Its signatories would be the 10 members of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), and China, South Korea, Australia, India, Japan and New Zealand.

This Saturday, in Bangkok, the Heads or Vice Ministers of Economy of those countries set the guidelines for the most immediate negotiations and agreed to shorten the deadlines as much as possible to make a FTA project acceptable to all sides ready by late this year and virtually ready for the signature.