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Duterte admin optimistic on early approval of RCEP


by Chino S. Leyco

The Duterte administration wants a swift conclusion of the Beijing-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

During the meeting between Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, the finance chief shared President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s optimism on the early conclusion of the talks on the RCEP.

 “We are very much optimistic for its early conclusion which would help us further diversify our export markets,” Dominguez said. “We look forward to continue the discussions on the promotion of free trade partnership via the RCEP where China is also taking the lead.”

Wang, in return, underscored the crucial role that the Philippines will play in the proposed free-trade deal, saying the country’s “irreplaceable role in the discussions of RCEP and highlighted that ‘ASEAN centrality’ will be crucial in the conclusion of the agreement.”

In the meeting, Wang also expressed China’s support for the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year.

Wang emphasized that China considers the ASEAN as a “diplomatic priority” and that the Philippines, as chair of the ASEAN this year, will “make a big contribution in the regional cooperation.”

 “Secretary Dominguez responded that together with China, the ASEAN can lead growth in the regional economic front that is not only a rapid one but inclusive to all members of society,” the DOF said.

The RCEP is a trade deal between the 10 countries of ASEAN, including the Philippines, and six other countries — Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Its membership of 16 Asian countries account for almost half of the world’s population, almost 30 percent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports. RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

It covers trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights, competition policy, and dispute settlement, among other issues. It does not cover labor, environment and state-owned enterprises.

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