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TPP and RCEP are meant to deepen regional economic integration: Lim Hng Kiang

Both the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are envisioned as high quality agreements to deepen regional economic integration, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on Friday.

SINGAPORE: Both the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are envisioned as high quality agreements to deepen regional economic integration.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang also said the two agreements, which serve as possible pathways to an eventual free trade area of the Asia Pacific, will promote growth and create jobs.

He added that both agreements are designed to be open and inclusive agreements.

Mr Lim said this in his Parliamentary reply to Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan who had asked for an update on the negotiations for the two agreements, and the prospects for China to be included in TPP, and the US in the RCEP before negotiations are concluded.

Any APEC economy interested to join TPP, including China, will have to initiate and complete bilateral consultations with existing TPP parties and secure a consensus agreement for its membership.

However, as negotiations intensify and TPP parties focus on finalising the agreement, prospective members will have less time to conclude such consultations.

Still, as the world's second largest economy and a key link in the Asia Pacific supply chains, China can contribute to regional integration should it decide to join TPP.

As for RCEP, negotiations currently involve ASEAN and its FTA partners, namely China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand in the first instance.

Other interested economic partners will be able to join RCEP following the conclusion of this first set of negotiations.

Dr Tan had also asked what Singapore can do to help make the two agreements more inclusive.

Mr Lim said Singapore plays an active role in the negotiations, firstly to secure its economic interest.

It also contributes where it can to facilitate the process, for example, in hosting the TPP ministerial meeting.

In addition, Singapore also meets with interested countries to share about the RCEP and the TPP process.

Dr Tan had asked how relevant TPP is, given that South Korea, Taiwan and China are absent. He also noted that while the TPP excludes China, the US is also excluded in the RCEP.

In his response, Mr Lim noted Singapore's existing bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, South Korea and Taiwan, and ASEAN's FTA with South Korea and China to highlight Singapore's existing preferential trade access with those countries.

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