RCEP Ministers fail to agree and on key provisions, negotiations to continue until October 22

October 15, 2019: Chief negotiators are continuing to meet in Bangkok this week after last week’s RCEP Ministers’ meeting, intended to finalise the negotiations, failed to reach agreement on key provisions. Governments still say they are working to complete the agreement by the end of the year, but final agreement is proving difficult to achieve.

News reports suggest that 14 out of 20 chapters have been agreed but key provisions including e-commerce, trade remedies and foreign investment continue to be negotiated.

India continues to oppose many of the remaining proposals, including e-commerce provisions, amid broad domestic opposition to the RCEP. The economic wing of the government-allied RSS organisation started an 11-day nationwide protest against the deal last Thursday, which comes on the back of farmer and industry protests against the deal. 

Domestic pressure on India to withdraw from the agreement has been matched by external pressure from negotiating partners, with China renewing suggestions that India could be dropped from the deal if agreement can’t be reached.

Talsk will contiue  until October 22, with the aim of concluding the deal in early November.