Southeast Asian-centered Trade deal gets postponed
A potential Southeast Asian-centered trade deal fell short of being finalized for 2018. This year, the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was held in Singapore, where Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong confirmed that the final verdict was to postpone any such plans of a free- trade initiative to the subsequent year.
The plan, titled as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which consists of 16 countries ( including major Asian economies such as India and China) sent a strong signal to the rest of the world of the importance of free trade. Such an initiative would be imperative, given the current situation of trade wars taking place between the US and China and other countries. However, experts believe that the failure to finalize the trade deal plan for this year may be accounted as a missed opportunity.
The trade deal is expected to include around half the world’s population and 40 percent of world trade.
The summit brought together several world leaders to discuss significant international issues, such as regional security and global cooperation. While the failure of finalizing the trade deal was unexpected and disappointing to many experts, Prime Minister Lee also embraced an optimistic perspective for the upcoming 2019 “ It’s important that we redouble our economic integration efforts and maintain free, open and rules-based multilateral trading system which has underpinned our growth and prosperity.” The meetings in Singapore stood in sharp contrast to the policies of bilateral trade and distrust towards international institutions embraced by the Trump administration. The Singapore meetings stressed the concept of multilateral trade deals and the negative repercussions which could follow trade wars and excessive tariffs.
“We are now at the final stage of negotiations. With a strong momentum generated this year, I am pleased to note that the RCEP negotiations are poised for conclusion in 2019” Prime Minister Lee reassured.
The Prime Minister has indicated that while significant progress has been made in this field, there are still significant differences which much be overcome in order to ensure the implementation of the deal.