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BANGKOK 19 February 2019 01:30
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Asean credibility at stake if RCEP not concluded this year, forum hears

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Asean credibility at stake if RCEP  not concluded this year, forum hears

By Phuwit Limviphuwat 
The Nation

 

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Concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be the biggest challenge during Thailand’s Asean chairmanship this year, as failing to do so will gravely damage the credibility of the Southeast Asian grouping, international relations experts cautioned on Tuesday.

 

Meanwhile, representatives of the Thai government said the upcoming general election would not disrupt the nation’s chairmanship of Asean, but could slow down various negotiations in the first half of the year.

 

“Concluding the RCEP negotiations will be the biggest challenge for Thailand, as the different members in the RCEP negotiations have different interests and expectations on the agreement,” said Chotima Iemsawadikul, director of the Bureau of Asean Economics, which is part of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Negotiations Department.

 

She was speaking at a public forum on “Thailand’s Asean Chair: Challenges Ahead”, organised by the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) and the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (ERIA).

 

Thailand has listed the conclusion of the RCEP talks as one of its 13 economic “deliverables” in 2019.

 

If the negotiations are successful, the RCEP will be the largest multilateral trade pact in history – encompassing China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 Asean nations. 

 

Its members have a combined 28 per cent of global gross domestic product.

 

Last year, the various RCEP negotiating parties became more flexible, raising the prospects of the negotiations coming to a conclusion in 2019, Chotima said.

 

Countering protectionism

 

“We need the RCEP to respond to the wave of protectionism in the world, and to show that Asean still believes that regionalism and multilateralism is the solution for economic sustainability,” she told the forum.

 

“This year, completing the RCEP is immensely important for both Thailand and the Asean region,” said Kavi Chongkittavorn, senior fellow at ISIS.

 

He commented that Asean had always championed regionalism and multilateralism over unilateralism and protectionism, and that the RCEP is the materialisation of what Asean stands for.

 

Hence, Thailand and the Asean region will seem weak and ineffective if the RCEP negotiations are not concluded by the end of this year, he claimed.

 

“Completing the RCEP is central to the credibility of the Asean region,” concurred Ponciano S Intal, senior economist of the ERIA.

 

However, he also cautioned that further integration with India and China would mean more competition in Asean markets, and told the forum that Asean still lagged behind these two economic giants in terms of both skills and resources.

 

General election impact

 

“The upcoming general election in Thailand will not disrupt the Asean meetings and negotiations in 2019,” said Suriya Chindawongse, director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Asean Department.

 

“This is because every leader in Thailand has championed further integration with the Asean region,” he explained. 

 

While the upcoming national poll may not significantly disrupt the Asean meetings, the changing of ministers after the election may slow down the RCEP negotiation process, Chotima added.

 

“There will be a lot of briefings to do for the new ministers involved in the negotiation process after the upcoming election,” she said, mentioning that the upcoming national elections in other countries in 2019, such as those in India, Indonesia and the Philippines, may also lead to slower negotiations during the first half of the year.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/Economy/30364006

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-02-12

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I personally  expect  a degree of interference will ensue  from a place remote from  the  ASEAN alliance. 

That interference  will  gain  nothing  for anyone. Not  even the initiator of interference. 

Bullies  eventually  do  succumb.

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9 hours ago, Dumbastheycome said:

I personally  expect  a degree of interference will ensue  from a place remote from  the  ASEAN alliance. 

That interference  will  gain  nothing  for anyone. Not  even the initiator of interference. 

Bullies  eventually  do  succumb.

It might depress the baht a bit.

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13 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

If the negotiations are successful, the RCEP will be the largest multilateral trade pact in history – encompassing China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 Asean nations. 

If it weren't for Trump pulling the US out of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership that included Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

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What is the probability that this group of nations can get along well enough to reach an agreement and then live with it? China will want o just control the others for its own interest and if the others enter into an agreement they will likely be making a commitment to allow China to own them for small incentives in return.  

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