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Agreement on 16-nation trade deal, the world’s biggest, set for November

FILE - Trade ministers of 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region stand for a group photo during the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on Monday, May 22, 2017.
FILE - Trade ministers of 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region stand for a group photo during the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on Monday, May 22, 2017. AP Photo/Hau Dinh

Singapore’s trade minister said on Saturday that broad agreement on what has been labelled the world’s biggest trade deal should be reached at a summit of leaders from participating nations in the city-state in November, six years since talks began.

READ MORE: Trump’s threat to pull plug on TPP allows China to take leadership on trade

Called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the trade accord includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the world’s second largest economy, China.

The deal does not include the United States, which is locked in a trade spat with China and pulled out of another broad, international trade agreement in 2017 called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The White House said on Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump would skip the November gathering of leaders in Singapore.

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WATCH: U.S., China impose new tariffs, escalating trade war

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U.S., China impose new tariffs, escalating trade war – Aug 23, 2018

Asked by Reuters after a meeting of regional economic ministers if participating countries were working towards a deal in time for the mid-November summit, trade minister Chan Chun Sing said:

“Yes. We are looking for that broad agreement, that milestone, to be achieved … when the leaders meet at the end of the year.”

However, he said it was not clear when a final deal would be signed.

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