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International relations

RCEP trade pact members seek year-end deal despite differences

16 Asia-Pacific countries hope for agreement to combat US protectionism

Bags of rice are unloaded at a port in Jakarta. Though a consensus has been reached on just two of the RCEP's 18 sections, many ASEAN members prioritize reaching any deal for the trade pact.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Top trade officials from 16 Asia-Pacific countries agreed Sunday to aim for a deal on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by the end of the year, but this may prove too little time to bridge the gaps remaining on many key issues.

Japanese trade Minister Hiroshige Seko and Singaporean counterpart Chan Chun Sing, who co-chaired the talks here, affirmed the year-end target for a broad agreement on the pact.

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