Japan, ASEAN for speedy RCEP

Japan’s economy minister Hiroshige Seko and his counterparts from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Osaka on Saturday.

The ministers discussed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal which is being negotiated by 16 countries, including Japan, China, South Korea and the ASEAN members.

Ministers said that promoting free trade and spreading it from Asia is important amid growing protectionist moves around the world.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the ministers stated they will seek an early conclusion of the RCEP deal.

They also agreed that trade rules, such as customs procedures and intellectual property protection, should have high degrees of freedom.

Countries, such as China and India, are cautious about a high level of liberalization. They want to protect their manufacturing industries. Japan, on the other hand, is aiming for more trade liberalization with support from the ASEAN.

Seko said that the agreement between Japan and the ASEAN is beneficial for both sides as Japan wants a well thought out deal and the ASEAN is aiming to conclude the RCEP quickly. He said that the ministers have sent a positive message to promote free trade globally.

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