The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has formed an interim bureau to monitor the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.
The decision was taken during the ASEAN Coordinating Council meeting and ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ retreat held in Jakarta on Friday and Saturday (3-4 Feb).
According to an Indonesian news release, the temporary secretariat would work as a special unit within the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, ultimately transitioning into an independent RCEP secretariat targeted at improving regional supply chains and supporting ASEAN economic integration.
The regional group did highlight, however, that the site of the permanent RCEP headquarters is still being discussed, since certain members, such as Cambodia, have indicated interest in hosting it.
The RCEP comprises 15 members, including ASEAN-10, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. India, on the other hand, opted to pull out at the last minute in 2019.
Trade between ASEAN countries and RCEP conversation partners has expanded dramatically since the agreement went into effect, owing to lower tariffs and enhanced market access.