ASEAN secretary general says RCEP deal to be signed in late 2020

March 16, 2020: ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi has reaffirmed that RCEP members intend to sign the agreement in late 2020.

Lim’s comments came as ASEAN Economic Ministers met for a Retreat in Vietnam on Wednesday 11 March, with discussions reportedly including plans for the finalisation of the RCEP negotiations. Lim said the text of the agreement will be finalised in May.

Once the negotiations have been finalised the text will be reviewed by lawyers, in a process known as legal scrubbing, before being signed by member countries. 

India’s participation in the agreement was still under discussion amongst ASEAN members. Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh was quoted as saying that “among RCEP members, India has yet reached an agreement on opening up market with partner countries and it also has some domestic issues that need further discussion.”

Previous media reports have suggested that India will not re-join the negotiations.