Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, heads to Thailand today to attend the final Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting, as negotiations enter their final stages.
“The RCEP Agreement would anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement that covers 16 countries, almost half the world’s population and markets that take more than half our total exports. It could also provide us a free trade relationship with India, a fast-growing economy with a GDP of more than $2.6 trillion in 2018,” Mr O’Connor said.
With just one month to go before leaders aim to announce conclusion of the negotiations, the meeting in Bangkok this weekend will be focused on resolving outstanding political issues.
“We consider conclusion in 2019 is achievable but only if urgency and momentum build between now and the end of the year.
“An accommodation between the big economies will be key. There is building confidence that all sixteen participants are committed to realising the value of RCEP this year.
”In addition to the direct commercial benefits, a successful RCEP would have significant strategic value. At a time of considerable turbulence in international trade policy – the sharpest rise in protectionism since 1995, erosion of support for the multilateral trading system, increasing unilateralism – regional integration initiatives such as RCEP become increasingly valuable,” he said.
Minister O’Connor is travelling from 11 – 13 October.