Negotiations are to start in 2013.
Participants would be the ASEAN States (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) as well as those countries that have free trade agreements with ASEAN (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand).
From the declaration adopted yesterday:
HEREBY DECLARE OUR COMMITMENT TO:
Achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement establishing an open trade and investment environment in the region to facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development;
Boost economic growth and equitable economic development,
advance economic cooperation and broaden and deepen integration in the region through the RCEP, which will build upon our existing economic linkages; and
Commence RCEP negotiations in early 2013 and aim to complete them by the end of 2015 based on the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership adopted by our Economic Ministers in Siem Reap, Cambodia in August 2012, which we hereby endorse.
That is of course good news for the idea of building an “Asian Super Grid“. I would very much recommend to make that proposal part of the agenda. That would of course very well be in line with “establishing an open trade environment” for electricity. One might even consider getting this done in a first step and take some more time to negotiate the more complex other issues involved.
Building some power lines between China, Korea and Japan would not cost much and would have great symbolic value for these talks as well. And building them all the way to Australia would be an interesting goal in the long term, especially if Australia finally wakes up and develops the energy potential of its excellent desert resources.
And if they introduce a right to market access for electricity, that would help getting rid of the outdated monopoly structure of the Japanese market faster.
Also, that would raise the very interesting question if electricity generated from wind in China can take part in the Japanese feed-in tariff system, and if not, if it should be able to.