Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – Leaders of the Association and South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its six East Asia partners on Sunday were seeking to conclude a new regional trade deal by 2016.
The 10 country ASEAN nations plus and China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea instructed their negotiators to intensify talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.
Malaysian Prime Minsiter Najib Razak said “substantial progress” have been made in the negotiations, but more time was needed to reach mutually beneficial deal.
“Considering the challenges faced and the value of constructive engagements more time is needed to conclude the negotiations,” according to the joint statement issued on the sidelines of the ASEAN leaders’ summit in Kuala Lumpur.
“We agreed to allow negotiations to continue and request our negotiators to intensify efforts to conclude and achieved a mutually beneficial and high quality agreement in 2016,” it added.
ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ten rounds of talks have been conducted and four minister-level meetings held since November 2012.
The trade deal is envisioned to be a comprehensive economic partnership establishing an open trade and investment environment in East Asia.
The participating countries have a total population of more than 3 billion people and a trade share estimated at around 27 per cent of global trade.