World News

Asia trade bloc deal possible by February 2020 - Thai spokeswoman

BANGKOK (Reuters) - An agreement on what could become the world’s largest trade bloc is likely to be signed by Asian countries in February 2020, a Thai government spokeswoman said on Sunday as negotiators scrambled to salvage progress after new Indian demands.

Hopes of finalising the Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is backed by China, have been thrown into doubt at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, Thailand.

“We don’t have a conclusion yet. Once there is one it would be announced,” Thai government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat told reporters on Sunday.

“Commerce ministers are still discussing outstanding issues. The signing is expected around February next year.”

Writing by Kay Johnson; editing by Jason Neely