Philippine News Agency - 10 March 2019
ASEAN gains China’s support on RCEP
By Kris Crismundo
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been assured of China’s support in realizing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Deputy Representative of International Trade Negotiations Wang Shouwen said.
In a press conference over the weekend, Wang said China sees ASEAN’s free trade agreement (FTA) with its six FTA partners as a vital development towards boosting trade in the region.
RCEP is composed of the 10 ASEAN member states — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — and its six partners namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
“The government of China attaches great importance to those negotiations, and have shown that China is actively promoting and in full support of the two negotiations,” said Wang, mentioning also the free trade deal among China, South Korea, and Japan.
“We are in great support of the centrality of ASEAN, and ASEAN countries made great efforts in conducting such negotiations to have attached the great importance on that,” Wang added.
Initiated by ASEAN, the 16 RCEP participating countries began negotiations for an FTA in 2012.
RCEP is envisioned to be the world’s largest free trade pact, accounting 48 percent of the world’s total market and 30 percent of global gross domestic product and trade.
During the second RCEP Leaders’ Summit in Singapore last year, heads of states urged their trade ministers to conclude the negotiations this year.
It was noted that RCEP talks have progressed substantially and reached their final stages in 2018.
Part of the final stage of discussions this year is China’s hosting of technical negotiation this coming July, Wang said.
He added that hundreds of delegates are expected to visit China in July for the RCEP technical negotiation.
“The target of the 16 members is to achieve comprehensive, high quality, mutually beneficial, and more than just a free trade agreement,” Wang said. (PNA)