Duterte bats for deeper economic integration like RCEP at 35th Asean Summit
NONTHABURI, Thailand — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for a deeper economic integration through programs such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to counter protectionism and trade-related tensions.
During the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit’s Plenary on Saturday, Duterte appealed for the need for an “open and rules-based trading system” among the countries.
“We need an open and rules-based trading system to sustain growth. Thus, we should ensure the continued relevance and effectiveness of the World Trade Organization,” Duterte said.
“And, Asean must accelerate deeper economic integration through concrete programs and projects, such as RCEP,” he added.
Duterte, according to a Palace statement, expressed alarm over “protectionism and ongoing trade war between major economic powers that undermine the progress of the Asean economies.”
RCEP is a mega trade deal among the 10-member states of Asean and its six trading partner countries Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier announced that trade ministers of the Asean have reached a “near conclusion” on RCEP and are just awaiting for “one country” to address its pending issues.
Lopez said he was ordered by the President to push for the trade deal’s conclusion during the 35th Asean Summit.
“The guidance of the President is to not delay it further, this has been negotiated for years, seven years already,” Lopez told reporters on the sides of the summit.
Leaders of the participating countries in the mega trade deal are due to meet Monday where the 3rd RCEP Summit is scheduled. /je
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