ASEAN Interest Group Meeting

Wednesday, 6th November 2019

On 6 November 2019, the Chamber was honoured to have Mr. Girija Pande, Chairman of Apex Avalon Consulting Singapore, and Ms. Deborah Elms, Founder and Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre and Trade Facilitation Specialist in Singapore, share their views and insights on the latest developments, significance and importance of the ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’ or RCEP with members.

Girija started off by sharing the importance of RCEP to Asian nations and its relevant impact when India decided to pull out most recently. He also shared briefly on the chapters covered in RCEP agreement in relation to CPTPP, or ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’.

This was followed by the sharing from Deborah on why there is a need for RCEP to happen despite ASEAN having several Free Trade Agreements, (FTAs). She pointed out areas of difficulties faced by nations for RCEP to materialise during the initial stages in 2012. ASEAN countries were inconsistent in their aspirations and could not agree with one another, making it challenging for the negotiating partners to reach a common goal. Deborah also shared that once RCEP is finalised, SMEs in ASEAN would have more business opportunities to export their products to other countries beyond this region, particularly countries in which they have no trade agreements with.