ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and their counterparts from ASEAN’s FTA Partners made an important first step towards establishing a new regional free trade area, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), this week. Ministers recognized the significance of RCEP in strengthening the region’s economic architecture, and committed to making RCEP a modern, high quality agreement, which will underpin and promote future growth, development and integration in the participating countries.

“ASEAN deepens and broadens economic integration not only within its Member States but also with its FTA partners. We always strive to boost the confidence of businesses in the region and the regional economic integration to create an environment conducive for production networks to operate in,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The Ministers welcomed the first meeting among the Economic Ministers of ASEAN and its FTA Partners as a key step towards launching the RCEP negotiations, which could potentially transform the region into an integrated market comprising over 3 billion people with a combined GDP of about US$ 17.23 trillion.

Economic Ministers from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand participated in the First AEM Plus FTA Partners Consultations. To see the full Joint Media Statement, please click here.

To see the pictures from the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, please click here.