May 3, 2020 / 5:09 AM / 3 months ago

Singapore minister says RCEP trade deal on track for year-end signing

FILE PHOTO: Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaks before a signing ceremony of ASEAN Agreements at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal is still on track to be signed by the end of 2020, Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday.

RCEP brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The countries have made an offer to India, which pulled out of talks last November, to see if it is prepared to rejoin discussions.

“If India is unable to rejoin the discussions in the coming month, then plans will continue to proceed with the legal scrubbing for the preparation for the siging at the end of the year,” Chan told reporters.

“At this point in time we are still on track for the signing by the RCEP countries at the end of the year,” he added.

Chan was speaking to reporters on Sunday to outline plans to restart Singapore’e economic activity after curbs put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Separately he said troubles at Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, one of Asia’s top oil traders, were not a reflection of the wider situation in the Singapore oil trading market. However, he said the wider oil trading market will be hurt by global oversupply issues.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Michael Perry

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