Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) want to keep tariff lines to be covered under the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to 90-92 percent, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Monday.
“The only acceptable re-calibration is a number that is closer to the 90 percent to 92 percent and anything lower or higher than that is not acceptable for Asean,” Lopez told reporters during a press conference on the results of the just-concluded 49th Asean Economic Ministers’ Meeting.
This is Asean’s last offer to other countries negotiating the RCEP, which is seen as an alternative to the embattled Trans-Pacific Partnership as it counts Asean’s 10 member countries plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
“[T]his is where the discussion is. At least more than 10 countries are already on this parameter agreement, so you want to improve that further by asking others to recalibrate,” Lopez said.
Asean ministers, he said, reaffirmed their commitment to further intensify efforts for the swift conclusion of RCEP negotiations, originally expected to conclude this year.
Ministers also reiterated a statement from a meeting in Hanoi that political commitments needed to be translated into action, with wider mandates where necessary.
RCEP participating countries, they said, should continue improving market access offers through positive and constructive responses to requests.