ECONOMY, MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore ‘working hard' with China for early conclusion of RCEP

The city-state is also pumping up efforts to diversify its portfolio through other free trade agreements with countries.

Singapore has been working hard with China to push for the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), trade minister Chan Chun Sing revealed.

The minister said that the RCEP is ‘perhaps bigger’ that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in terms of scope as the RCEP will include 16 countries.

“We are now at the critical stage of our discussion over the next two weeks and we will do our best working together between Singapore and China and the 14 other countries to try to achieve a substantial conclusion of the RCEP,” Chan said.

The official added that Singapore will move along to diversify its portfolio of free trade agreements with many other countries to keep options open. He noted that 2018 saw the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) as well as the upgraded India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Also read: ASEAN's regional trade partnership deal could be rolled out by 2018

“These are the many examples of the work that is ongoing to make sure that Singapore continues to have a free, open, rule-based environment with as many like-minded countries as possible,” he said.

In August, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong urged ASEAN members to make trade-offs and compromises for the long-run in relation to the RCEP. Lee noted that they have reached its critical stage and its finality could be ‘in sight’ by 2018.

By September, however, the prime minister said at the World Economic Forum held in Hanoi that they are hoping to ‘achieve a substantial conclusion to the RCEP by end 2018 although it is ‘not yet assured’.

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