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18th round of RCEP negotiations starts in Manila 2017-05-08
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on May 8 that the 18th round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership began in Manila, the Philippines. 
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement among 16 nations in the Asia Pacific region including Korea, Japan, China, and 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 
Until May 12, the participating nations will exchange offers on goods and services and will negotiate market access in depth based on the offers. 
The delegations will also endeavor to accelerate negotiations for agreements on 12 different areas of the RCEP including intellectual property rights, sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), and rules of origin.
The Korean delegation for the 18th round of official negotiations is led by Director-General for FTA Negotiations and East Asia FTA Yoo Myung-hee of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and comprises around 50 representatives of relevant ministries including the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 
The participating nations share the view that much progress needs to be made in the negotiations in Manila for the “swift conclusion of the RCEP negotiations,” which was agreed upon during the gathering of heads of state and government in September last year in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Korea will contribute to the swift conclusion of the agreement while seeking to maximize national interests.
The significance of the RCEP as the largest free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region has become greater amid the rising protectionism across the world.
The government expects the trade pact will help build the foundation for the growth of Korea’s exports as it will improve access to large, promising markets for trade and investment such as the ASEAN and India, unify regulations, and ease non-tariff measures. 
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