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RCEP participating states reiterate to conclude negotiations by end-2015

NAY PYI TAW, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Economic ministers from the 16 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have reiterated their commitment to conclude negotiations by the end of 2015.

The ministers reaffirmed they are committed to ending the RCEP negotiations in line with the vision endorsed by their state leaders for a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that would support the achievement of the ASEAN Community and deeper regional economic integration, according to a press media statement available on Thursday.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) and the six states of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand which have an FTA agreement with ASEAN.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. Five rounds of talks have been held so far.

The ministers made the pledge following the end of the Second RECP Ministerial Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw held as part of a series of related meetings of the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting.

RCEP economies' combined output reached 21.3 trillion U.S. dollars in 2013, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world output, the ministers said in the statement.

Trade and investment flows in RCEP economies also remained strong. In 2013, total trade of RCEP economies amounted to 10.7 trillion U.S. dollars (29 percent of global trade), while total foreign direct investment inflows to RCEP economies reached 339.8 billion U.S. dollars (23.4 percent of the global total).

With almost half of the world's population, RCEP economies represent a massive market, the ministers pointed out.

Recognizing the immense potential within the RCEP, the ministers said it would, upon successful conclusion, spur economic dynamism through better market access, enhance deeper economic integration, create shared opportunities and help improve the standard of living for billions of people of this region.

The ministers called for continued engagement among all participating countries to achieve meaningful progress in the agreed scope of negotiations.

The next round of negotiation is set to be held from 1-5 December 2014 in Greater Noida, India, according to the statement.

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