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Philippines hopes RCEP trade pact will be concluded this year — DFA

/ 12:37 PM June 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is hoping that discussions on the Asia-wide trade deal involving 16 countries will be concluded this 2019, seven years after it was formally launched.

“We hope that RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) would be concluded by this year,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West said in a Palace briefing Tuesday.

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RCEP is the proposed regional economic integration agreement among the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and its six free-trade agreement partners—Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea and India.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia and were initially set to wrap up in 2015.

The DFA official issued the statement in the lead up of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand which is slated on June 22 to 23.

A special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting on RCEP will be held during the Summit but Mahilum-West noted that the conclusion of the deal in the upcoming meeting is not already assured.

“We hesitate now to say that we conclude it by the summit, you know a definite deadline, because when we don’t meet the deadline, then you know our credibility is a little bit questioned. So by this year, we hope that RCEP would be concluded,” she said.

President Duterte, along with secretaries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Social Welfare and Development, Finance, Transportation, Tourism, and Agriculture, will fly to Bangkok to participate in the summit.

This will be the Duterte’s third visit to Thailand since assuming office. He visited the country in November 2016 and in March 2017.  (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)

READ: Asean Summit focuses on US-China trade tensions

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