The 23rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and related meetings were held in Bangkok, Thailand from 17 to 27 July 2018. The TNC was held in parallel with the meetings of the Working Groups on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services, including their respective Sub-Working Groups, as well as the Working Groups on Investment, Intellectual Property, Electronic Commerce, Legal and Institutional issues, and Government Procurement.
The focus of the round was to implement the guidance from the recently concluded fifth RCEP Intersessional Ministerial meeting held 1 July 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. In particular, negotiators identified a package of year-end outcomes to be considered by Ministers at the sixth RCEP Ministerial meeting on 30-31 August 2018 in Singapore. This is in line with the RCEP Leaders mandate of 2017 to intensify efforts in 2018 to bring the RCEP negotiations to conclusion.
Two chapters were concluded at the 23rd round of negotiations – Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation (CPTF) and Government Procurement. The CPTF Chapter covers general principles and specific commitments to ensure the transparency and predictability in the application of customs laws and regulations of the RCEP Participating Countries. The Government Procurement Chapter aims to promote the transparency of government procurement.
The meeting welcomed progress in market access negotiations. The meeting also noted progress in text negotiations across different areas.
Two stakeholder engagement sessions were held on 23 July 2018 with representatives of civil society organisations and with the East Asia Business Council Working Group on RCEP. The events were participated by the TNC Leads and their delegations and provided an opportunity for civil society and business representatives to share their views and expectations of the RCEP negotiations.
The 24th round of negotiations will be held from 21 to 27 October 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.