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RCEP talks make little headway toward year-end conclusion

Ministers narrow market access differences but say 'further improvements' needed

Although RCEP negotiations began in 2013, the 16 Asia-Pacific countries involved became keener this year due to U.S. protectionism and expected collateral damage from the U.S.-China trade war.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- The 16 members of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact on Saturday made some progress in the area of market access at a ministerial meeting in Singapore. But the ministers said further improvements are needed to reach a deal by the end of the year.

The RCEP encompasses the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The proposed bloc accounts for about one-third of global gross domestic product and half the world's population.

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