The statement, announced following a meeting of the 16 countries’ leaders in Bangkok the same day, said that the leaders committed to inking the mega deal in 2020. It is likely that they will continue to negotiate on the agreement.

“We noted 15 RCEP participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters and essentially all their market access issues; and tasked legal scrubbing by them to commence for signing in 2020,” said the statement.

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Leaders at the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit

“India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved. All RCEP participating countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. India’s final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues,” it added.

“Present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and agreed guiding principles of RCEP,” Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi was quoted saying by Indian public broadcaster PrasarBharati News Services. “It does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns,” he stated.

RCEP, launched in 2012, includes the 10 ASEAN members, as well as China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Once signed, the deal will create the largest free trade area in the world with about 3.5 billion people and making up 30 percent of the global GDP.

Source: VNA