The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): Breaking Through or Standing Still?

Dr. Deborah Elms, Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre; Cindy Owens, Professional Support Lawyer, Asia Pacific, Baker Mckenzie.Wong & Leow; Alpana Roy, Director, ASEAN (Trade Division), Ministry of Trade & Industry; and Moderator Nicholas Stipp, Head of Solutions Consulting, Asia Tax and Trade, Thomson Reuters

Venue : Stamford American Auditorium (AmCham Office, 1 Scotts Rd, #23-03 Shaw Centre)

Date : September 19, 2017

Time : 11:45 AM - 1:30 PM

Price : $15.00

Please add to calendar before registering for the event



Hosted by Government & Regional Affairs, and Supply Chain, Transportation, & Logistics Committee

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been in the spotlight as a pathway for pan-Asian economic integration, especially in light of the uncertainties facing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). RCEP was initiated by ASEAN to bring together ASEAN member states and six of their dialogue partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – in a collaborative framework towards a complete and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that is both WTO-consistent and transparent.

RCEP aims to be an ASEAN-led process through which ASEAN would broaden and deepen its economic engagements with its FTA partners and in turn, lead to greater economic integration, support equitable economic development and strengthen cooperation among the countries involved. RCEP also aspires to improve on the existing ASEAN 1 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) while covering regular trade issues of goods, services, investment, intellectual property, competition policy, technical cooperation and dispute settlement mechanisms.

The guiding principles of RCEP take into consideration the different levels of development among the members, which raises concerns over the quality of the agreement when completed. Although negotiations were launched in 2013, discussions, for the most part, have not been made known to the public.

This panel will discuss the progress and challenges in RCEP negotiations thus far, as well as providing some insights on the potential agreement and the anticipated conclusion of the negotiations.

About the Panelists

Dr. Deborah Elms
Executive Director
Asian Trade Centre

Dr. Deborah Elms is the Founder and Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre (ATC). She is also a senior fellow in the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Trade Academy.

Previously, Dr. Elms was head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade & Negotiations (TFCTN) and Senior Fellow of International Political Economy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Her research interests are negotiations and decision- making, and her current research involves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) negotiations and global value chains.

She has provided consulting on a range of trade issues to governments including the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Dr. Elms received a PhD in political science from the University of Washington, a MA in international relations from the University of Southern California, and bachelor’s degrees from Boston University.  Dr Elms publishes the Talking Trade Blog.

Cindy Owens
Professional Support Lawyer, Asia Pacific
Baker Mckenzie.Wong & Leow

Prior to joining Baker Mckenzie.Wong & Leow, Cindy Owens worked as an attorney with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for more than eight years. At CBP, she was responsible for writing decisions and rulings on a variety of customs and trade matters including penalties for intellectual property rights violations, antidumping, entry process and duty drawback issues. Prior to working for CBP, she was a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Chief Counsel for the Economics and Statistics Administration and also worked as an associate with a boutique firm, specializing in export control matters.
  At Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow she works on a variety of international trade and supply chain matters throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Cindy earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her juris doctorate from the George Washington School of Law.
  She is a member of the Maryland and D.C. Bar associations.

Alpana Roy
Director, ASEAN (Trade Division)
Ministry of Trade & Industry

Alpana Roy currently oversees the ASEAN Division in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and is also Singapore’s Senior Economic Official Lead (SEOM) to ASEAN. Prior to her appointment as Director, ASEAN, Alpana was Deputy Director for ASEAN as well as Southeast Asia, and Counsellor (Economic) at the Embassy of Singapore in Washington D C. At MTI, she has been responsible for advancing Singapore’s economic relations with the Americas, Southeast Asia, and ASEAN as well the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Alpana has also been involved in the negotiation, implementation and review of a number of Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) namely, with the United States, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica and the TransPacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4). More recently, she has been the Chief Negotiator for the ASEAN-Hong Kong and ASEAN-Japan FTAs as well as the upgrade of the ASEAN-China FTA. Alpana is also the Deputy Chief Negotiator for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Prior to joining MTI, Alpana’s past work experience includes being a senior trade official with Singapore's national trade promotion agency (International Enterprise Singapore) where she headed the Emerging Markets team. Alpana also served as a Foreign Service official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Alpana obtained her degree in Political Science (Honours) from the National University of Singapore in 1995 and her Masters in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 2013. She is married with one child.

About the Moderator

Nicholas Stipp
Head of Solutions Consulting
Asia Tax and Trade
Thomson Reuters

Nicholas Stipp is Head of Solutions Consulting for the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters in Asia.  In this role, he leads a team of international tax and trade consultants across the region.  This team of experienced professionals is expert in applying technologies to help organizations ensure compliance and improve efficiency in their tax processes.

An active participant in the local business community, he is the Policy Chair for the Canada-ASEAN Business Council and sits on the American Chamber of Commerce Supply Chain committees.

Originally from Vancouver, he has been based in Singapore since August 2015.  Prior to Singapore, he worked with Thomson Reuters in Beijing, New York and Philadelphia.  Nicholas holds Bachelor’s Degrees from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

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