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METI Minister Seko Hosts RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo

July 2, 2018

On July 1 (Sun.), 2018, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, hosted the Fifth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting as Co-chair with H.E. Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore.

In addition, prior to the Meeting and taking advantage of their visit to Japan, he held meetings each with H.E. Mr. Enggartiasto Lukita, Minister of Trade, Indonesia, H.E. Mr. Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry, Viet Nam, Minister Chan Chun Sing, Singapore, and H.E. Mr. Steven Ciobo, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Australia.

1. RCEP Ministerial Meeting

On July 1, 2018, the Fifth RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting was held in Tokyo. This was the first time for a non-ASEAN country to host a RCEP Ministerial Meeting in the almost five-year RCEP-negotiation history. It was also the first time for Japan to hold a ministerial meeting for a mega-FTA negotiation involving multiple countries. Minister Seko co-chaired the meeting with Minister Chan Chun Sing, Singapore.

In the Meeting’s opening remarks, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, reaffirmed Japan’s resolve to swiftly conclude a comprehensive, well-balanced and high-quality RCEP, and recognized that the RCEP has been drawing more attention from the rest of the world at a time of increased concern surrounding protectionism.

At the meeting, RCEP participating countries (RPCs) discussed how to advance the RCEP negotiations toward conclusion. During the meeting, Minister Seko emphasized that RPCs should accelerate technical negotiations in the areas where technical work is behind schedule, elaborate political issues and options which require political decision, and resolve a limited number of outstanding issues as a package deal at the final stage of negotiations.

As a result, RPCs agreed that they will aim for further progress in the negotiations across all areas of market access and rules at the negotiation meeting in Thailand later this month, and based on the discussions in Thailand, intensify discussions towards achieving a package of year-end outcomes at the Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in August.

2. Bilateral meetings with Minister Lukita, Indonesia, Minister Anh, Viet Nam, Minister Chan, Singapore, and Minister Ciobo, Australia

Prior to the ministerial meeting, Minister Seko held meetings with responsible ministers of RPCs, including Minister Chan, serving as a co-chair of the ministerial meeting. At these meetings, aiming to pave a way to early conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, Minister Seko exchanged frank views with each of these ministers concerning future approaches to advancing the negotiations.

Moreover, at the meetings with Minister Anh and Minister Lukita, Minister Seko exchanged views toward enhancing bilateral economic ties.

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