RCEP trade pact on track for 2020 signing

The world's biggest trade pact RCEP will be signed later this year, participating countries say, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has increased the deal's importance.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

India pulled out of talks last November, but members have said the door remains open to New Delhi.

"We reaffirmed our commitment to sign the RCEP agreement this year," ministers said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

"As the importance of the RCEP continues to grow in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ... the signing of the agreement will serve as a clear signal of our unwavering support for the multilateral trading system, regional integration as well as economic development across the region."