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15 members to sign RCEP agreement online via hologram on November 14: Official

China's Premier Li Keqiang passes Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looking on, as they gather for a group photo with Asean leaders at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore Nov 14, 2018. (Reuters file photo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Oct 11, 2020, VNA. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is set to be signed on November 14 via hologram, according to Director General of the Trade Negotiations Department Auramon Supthaweethum, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Auramon was quoted by local media as saying that 15 RCEP members have insisted on signing the pact at the upcoming summit despite the prolonged pandemic.

She said Vietnam as host country organised the unconventional approach. There will be a referendum or official signing by each country after the hologram.

The official added that the Trade Negotiations Department will publish the deal’s details on its website in both Thai and English. The deal is scheduled to be submitted to the Thai legislature for approval next year.

Auromon said she hopes the RCEP will take effect in 2021, as member countries want to stimulate economic growth amidst the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through this deal, the largest of its kind in the world.

The RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 member states of ASEAN and six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations on the RCEP started in late 2012 at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh.

In last-minute talks on Nov 4 last year, with Thailand as ASEAN Chair, India pulled the plug on joining the RCEP over unresolved issues, especially those concerning agricultural tariffs.

So far, 15 participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters of the deal and market access issues.

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