KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has thus far successfully concluded 11 ‘working groups’ or chapters as of Sept this year, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said today.

Among the successful working groups, he said, were related to the economic and technical cooperation, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), customs procedures and facilitation of trade and intellectual property rights.

He said, among the benefit to be garnered by Malaysia would be the streamlining of different rules and procedures under each ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA), better market access and liberalisation than the existing commitments under the FTA framework.

“The private sector is of the view that coordination of procedures is important because the differences in procedures will lead to greater trade complexities, additional costs and longer time in conducting business affairs,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He was responding to a question posed by Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (BN-Kepala Batas) on the latest progress of RCEP.

The RCEP he said, had conducted 28 round of negotiations since the process to ratify trade pact began from May 2013 until September 2019.

Meanwhile, asked about media report regarding correspondence by MITI minister Datuk Darell Leiking with all ASEAN trade ministers about the change in position on some provisions of RCEP, the deputy minister said the matter was confidential.

“So I don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate on the intent and content of the letter,” he said.

The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN — Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and its six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

This article was published in bernama.com with the title “Parliament: RCEP successfully concludes 11 “working groups””. Click to read: https://www.bernama.com/en/news.php?id=1784721