Singapore PM unsure if China-backed trade pact will be finalised this year

Singagpore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN at the Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday said he was not sure if an agreement on major regional trade pact backed by China will be finalised this year.

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are working to finalize terms of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement, which also includes China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

“(We) hope to achieve a substantial conclusion to the RCEP by the end of this year, but that is not yet assured,” Lee said at a World Economic Forum event in Hanoi.

Reporting by John Geddie, Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Himani Sarkar