Asean nations and their key partners on Saturday (Oct 13) reaffirmed their resolve to substantially conclude a region-wide trade pact by the end of the year, seeing its completion as an “important milestone” amid uncertainties in global trade. The 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would, if concluded, be the world’s largest free trade deal. Ministers from the RCEP nations on Saturday attended the 6th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, to review developments since the 6th RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in end-August. “The ministers reaffirmed their resolve to bring negotiations to a substantial conclusion and reiterated that the completion of the package by the year end is an important milestone, particularly at the time of uncertainties in global trade,” the group said in a joint statement. The group comprises the 10 Asean countries plus India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Asean leaders meeting in Bali on Thursday (Oct 11) said they remain committed to upholding the open and rules-based multilateral trading system that has long underpinned the region’s economic growth. And they vowed to work together to ensure that no one is left behind in the march for progress.