DTI, Asean working to conclude RCEP
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), along with other trade agencies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is committed to push for the conclusion of the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year. 

In a statement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the trade ministers of the ASEAN countries are united in their commitment to complete the seven-year long negotiations for the RCEP within the year. 

During the special economic ministers meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, ASEAN trade ministers reaffirmed their commitment to complete the trade pact and to settle several pending issues. 

ASEAN trade ministers also reminded participating countries of the importance of concluding the negotiation this year. 

Apart from the Philippines, the nine other ASEAN members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam together with free trade area partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand are parties to the RCEP. 

Amid challenges being faced by the multilateral trading system and the protectionist stance of some countries, Lopez said it is important to reinforce trust on international trade rules, and the free interface of economies especially in the ASEAN region and its trading partners. 

“In this era of globalization and advent of new technologies, countries need each other and we have to work in a stable and predictable economic environment,” he said. 

The RCEP seeks to allow greater market access for goods, services, and investments, and provide business-friendly and trade-facilitative rules for businesses and investors in the 16-member economies.

Lopez said earlier the agreement would help drive Philippine economic growth, as well as improve the quality of life of Filipinos. 

Negotiations for the RCEP were formally launched in November 2012. 

Once in place, the RCEP is seen to become the world’s biggest trade deal as participating countries would account for nearly half of the global population and almost one third of the world’s economy and trade. 

Parties expect substantial progress to be made in the next round of negotiations for the RCEP set to be held in Melbourne, Australia next week. 

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