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RCEP talks seen to wrap up soon

MANILA, Philippines - A high-level official of the Duterte administration expressed optimism for the early conclusion of discussions for the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which is seen to benefit the country’s export sector.

 During a meeting with Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Wang Yang last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the Philippines is looking forward to the conclusion of the RCEP as it could open up more markets for Philippine products.

“We look forward to continue the discussions on the promotion of free trade partnership via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership where China is also taking the lead,” Dominguez said during the meeting.

 “We are very much optimistic for its early conclusion which would help us further diversify our export markets,” he said.

 According to Vice Premier Wang, the Philippines, as the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, would play a crucial role in the discussions for the RCEP.

“Vice Premier Wang cited the Philippines’ irreplaceable role in the discussions of RCEP and highlighted that ‘ASEAN centrality’ will be crucial in the conclusion of the agreement,” the DOF said.

Dominguez, said that ASEAN, together with China, can lead the region’s economic growth “that is not only a rapid one but inclusive to all members of society.”

The RCEP negotiations were spearheaded by 10 ASEAN member-states —Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and six ASEAN free trade partners — Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand- during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012.

The agreement seeks to cover regional cooperation in the trade of goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights, competition policy and dispute settlement, among others.

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