Duterte endorses RCEP to Asean, warns against protectionism
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on member states of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to reject protectionism as he pushed for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
RCEP is the economic agreement between the 10-member states of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its six free trade agreement partners.
“We must take a serious look at the economic integration. Asean has a bigger stake than any other part of the world in standing up against protectionism and securing the rules of the game in the international trade,” Duterte said in a speech at the 50th Asean anniversary at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
The President then endorsed the China-RCEP, saying it would “provide further impetus to our efforts.”
Negotiations, he said, should conclude swiftly as decided by RCEP leaders in 2016.
“I was reminded that the Trans-Pacific, it was a dream that was no longer there,” he said.
Duterte was referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest regional trade deal, which was pushed by then United States President Barack Obama.
US President Donald Trump, however, has rejected the TPP, calling it a “job killer.”
In December 2016, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines would pursue membership in the planned Asean and China-led free trade agreement (FTA) while abandoning inclusion in the TPP.
“I personally would like to look at RCEP closely because that’s the 10 Asean countries. That one, we are more open to,” Dominguez said.
During his speech before Southeast Asia’s top diplomats, Duterte also called on the public sector to play its role in spurring and sustaining growth in the region.
“As Asean governments work to achieve the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, I call on our private sector to play a bigger role in spurring and sustaining growth,” he said.
“Public Private Partnership must be harnessed fully to lift our peoples from poverty,” he added. JE
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