Leaders at the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit (Photo: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA)Thailand is expecting the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to go forward this year as the COVID-19 is presenting no hurdles for the trade deal, the negotiations of which can be sped up through video conferencing.

Local media quoted Ronnarong Phoolpipat, Commerce Ministry Chief Inspector-General and chief negotiator of RCEP for Thailand, as saying the pandemic is expected to hamper already-delayed RCEP negotiations because scheduled meetings were cancelled to follow travel ban lockdown measures in member state countries.

However, recent trade negotiations and meetings via video conference were surprisingly efficient and helpful, he said.

Trade negotiators have completed many negotiation issues during the past two months, the official said, adding that it is faster and saves time and costs.

The pandemic brings a new normal situation to trade negotiations, he noted.

He said RCEP dialogue partners are reviewing legal texts and expect the process to finish in July so the pact can be signed later in the year during the ASEAN Summit.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and six dialogue partners – China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand. India withdrew from the deal last year./.