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Talks on Asian trade megadeal RCEP resume in COVID shadow

India likely to remain absent as Vietnam leads push for year-end agreement

India pulled out of the RCEP negotiations over concerns that the pact would hurt the South Asian country's domestic producers. (Nikkei montage/source photos by Reuters and Rie Ishii)

HANOI/NEW DELHI -- The trade ministers of China, Japan, Association of Southeast Asian Nations members and other countries participating in talks on an Asia-wide free trade agreement are set to hold an online meeting on Thursday, hoping to remove the final obstacles to a deal by the end of the year.

Battered by the coronavirus pandemic, the 15 nations seeking to build the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership -- 10 ASEAN countries and the bloc's five major trading partners -- see boosting trade as a way to invigorate their ailing economies.

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