The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement last week could speed up talks on its lesser-known Asia-wide equivalent, trade analysts say.
Negotiators working on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are currently in the middle of a week-long meeting, the 10th of its kind, in Busan, South Korea.
"I am not 100 percent sure whether the RCEP deal will be struck as soon as this week but the stakes are now higher for RCEP members, especially those that are not in the TPP, because they realize that they are losing out," said Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
"This mindset of 'losing out' could tempt these non-TPP countries in RCEP to reach a deal very soon," she added in an email interview with CNBC.
Deborah Elms, executive director at Asia Trade Centre, agrees: "The TPP has been viewed [with a fair amount of skepticism] by many of the RCEP countries. They were working towards a deadline at the end of the year ... but they were not under a great deal of pressure. Now that the TPP is closed, I think the pressure for some kind of high quality result out of RCEP is likely to mount."
According to South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, countries participating in the regional free trade deal will this week discuss guidelines for market liberalization and draw up a list of products to be liberalized for each country. Other trade issues, including economic cooperation, legal systems, trade barriers and e-commerce will also be on the agenda.
"We are not sure what the outcome will be at this stage, but we hope there will be good progress. Expectations are high. This is an important and critical round as we will be reporting to the leaders at the ASEAN Summit next month," a Malaysian official attending the Busan meeting told the country's English newspaper The Star on Monday.