Accelerating the RECP Process through Strengthening the APT Cooperation
Report of NEAT Working Group by NEAT China
August 2014, Beijing


The RCEP negotiations were launched by leaders from the ten ASEAN members and ASEAN’s FTA partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand) on November 20, 2012. The negotiations present an opportunity as well as a challenge for the participating countries. It is an opportunity to consolidate the ever proliferating and overlapping sets of FTAs and form a region-wide FTA in East Asia. It is a challenge however because of the varying degrees of interests and levels of ambition of each of the negotiating parties, and the relative extent to which they seek to undertake commitments on liberalization and facilitation in trade and investment, and other issues. 
With the scheduled concluding year 2015 approaching, there is now growing anxiety among the RCEP partners that the deadline is unrealistic and acknowledgement that the negotiations have so far gone virtually nowhere. The RCEP process is now in urgent need of building up momentum to help gain confidence and impetus for the negotiations to press ahead. It is very timely and appropriate for the APT countries to discuss the issue of the RCEP process. The reason is quite simple: The RCEP is beneficial to the APT countries and the APT countries are the pillar of the RCEP process. If the APT countries can reach consensus in some difficult areas and cement their shared views on what is needed to bring the RCEP negotiations to a close, we firmly believe, through our joint efforts, the blueprint of RCEP will be hopefully turned into reality rather than remain just a talk. 
This report consists of five sections. Section one and two provide the background of the ongoing RCEP negotiations in terms of the necessity and potential benefits respectively. Section three unfolds the progress of the RCEP negotiations from the perspectives of ambitions, achievements and challenges. Section four tries to propose some suggestions on prompting the RCEP negotiations through cooperation among the APT countries. Last section is concluding remarks highlighting both the importance of APT cooperation and the RCEP’s relationship with the TPP. 
For the full text of the report, click here.