RCEP likely to be signed next year, says Leiking

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking.

KUALA LUMPUR: International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking says the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will likely be signed by next year.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here today, he said he expects discussions on the issue to be concluded by the end of the year.

However, he said this depends on the parties involved.

“I cannot reveal too much about the issue as we are still discussing,” he added.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 16 nations: the 10 Asean-member countries plus six Asia Pacific states – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Last week, Leiking said negotiations in China had seen progress, with most of the issues ironed out. Another meeting will be held in Da Nang, Vietnam, at the end of this month.

On a separate issue, he said there are currently no issues with rare earths miner Lynas.

“Lynas and the Malaysian government are working on a solution that benefits all, so there is no issue at the moment,” he said.

“I was just in Australia, and I think (the Australian government) is also waiting for Lynas to do what they have undertaken under the licence.”

Last month, Lynas’ licence to operate in Malaysia was renewed for six months on several major conditions, including an agreement that it would transfer its cracking and leaching plant to another country and construct a permanent disposal facility for its radioactive waste.