Vietnam, as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said it will hold a series of regular summit meetings online from Nov 12 to 15, including the East Asia Summit involving such countries as Japan, the United States and China.
The Foreign Ministry said that among the meetings will be one of leaders from 15 Asia-Pacific countries negotiating a sprawling free trade agreement known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
According to diplomatic sources, the annual ASEAN Summit will be held on Nov 12, the East Asia Summit on Nov 14, and the RCEP Summit on Nov 15.
The 15 RCEP countries, which also include ASEAN’s 10 members, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, aim to sign a deal by the end of the year, having failed to accomplish that goal by the end of last year.
Former participant India has skipped all negotiations this year amid concerns that opening up its market would raise its massive and chronic trade deficits with China.
Despite the United States being a member of the East Asia Summit, U.S. President Donald Trump has never participated since taking office in 2017, instead dispatching a substitute.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.