JAKARTA, Indonesia

Countries part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on Thursday agreed to boost economic and trade cooperation to overcome the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement following a virtual meeting hosted by Vietnam, economy and trade ministers of the 15 RCEP countries acknowledged the pandemic’s impact on trade and investment activities.

The RCEP includes 10 Southeast Asian nations, along with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

The ministers agreed that the current challenges have made it imperative for countries in the region, including those participating in the RCEP negotiations, to keep their markets open, particularly for essential goods and services.

There was also consensus on the need for cooperation and collaboration in the fight against COVID-19.

“They shared the view that the signing of the RCEP Agreement would enhance business confidence, strengthen the regional economic architecture and maintain the stability of the regional and global industrial chains and supply chains, as well as demonstrate the region’s support for an open, inclusive, and rules-based multilateral trading system,” read the statement.

The countries reiterated that the RCEP remains open for India, given that it had participated in negotiations since they started in 2012 and also because of its potential to enhance the region’s prosperity.

India opted out of the RCEP last November over concerns about a deluge of imports due to the agreement.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta

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