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Progress at RCEP but no adventure

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/06/2016

Progress was made in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks in Auckland, says Trade Minister Todd McClay.

But in a statement on Sunday he's urging trade negotiators to be more adventurous and ambitious, warning the New Zealand government will only sign up to RCEP if it delivers tangible benefits.

RCEP is seen as a "Chinese-led TPPA" and about 500 trade negotiators attended the talks in Auckland which concluded on Saturday.

The next round of negotiations will be held in Laos in September.

"I'm pleased to see negotiators have intensified their efforts during the round of negotiations that has just finished but much more remains to be done if RCEP is to be concluded by the end of this year," Mr McClay says.

Good progress was made to address non-tariff measures and rules of origin, which were areas of particular concern to New Zealand businesses, including in the forestry and wood processing industry.

"I'm grateful to all participants and have committed to continue to look for better ways to engage on the importance of trade."

There are 16 countries involved in RCEP. These are the 10 members of ASEAN being Brunei-Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements being Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.

RCEP countries have a total population of more than 3 billion and they account for about 27 per cent of global trade.

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