INCHEON, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- Trade ministers of 16 regional countries, including India and China, will meet in South Korea next month to discuss a regional mega free trade agreement (FTA), the Incheon Metropolitan City said Sunday.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed open trade pact between 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six other countries with which ASEAN has free trade deals with.
If the 16 countries agree to launch the regional FTA, it will form a huge economic bloc that covers one-third of the world's GDP.
Some 800 economic leaders from the RCEP countries are expected to attend the 20th negotiations to be held in Incheon, a port city 40 kilometers west of Seoul, from Oct. 17-28, the provincial government said.
In the RCEP talks, the ASEAN members have been eager to reach an agreement within this year. Japan and others, however, want to take more time to cover trade and investment rules and e-commerce legal systems.
Any substantial conclusion is unlikely this year as members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) have demanded certain condition, which may be hard to comply by non-TPP states.
In January, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP, a pan-Pacific trade agreement, calling it bad for American interests. Japan now informally leads the 11 remaining TPP member states.