ASEAN leaders expected to call for immediate conclusion of RCEP amid trade developments - DFA
Southeast Asian leaders, including President Rodrigo Duterte, are expected to call for the immediate conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ( RCEP) when they meet in Singapore next week in the wake of the trade war between the United States and China, the Department of Foreign Affairs ( DFA) said on Friday.
Duterte will fly to Singapore to join the other nine leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as their other partner countries in the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits on November 13 to 15.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Assistant Foreign Secretary Junever Mahilum-West said the ASEAN leaders as well as those pushing for the RCEP will hold the second summit to look into the progress in the negotiations of the economic deal.
"During the summit, the leaders would express their commitment to conclude the negotiations because this is very important for the region especially in view of the rising trade developments, tensions in our unilateral actions. And we expect the leaders to call for the expeditious conclusion of the RCEP," she said.
RCEP is the proposed free trade agreement among 10 countries of the ASEAN, namely, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and Australia, China, India, Japan New Zealand and South Korea.
West said the South China Sea issue would also be discussed during the summit.
She said the Philippines has assumed the "coordinatorship" of the ASEAN-China Dialogue partnership from this year until 2021.
"And we are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I’ve mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the summit. As to the detail of the discussions, I cannot say. But for sure there’s going to be discussion on the South China Sea," she said when asked if China's reported installation of weather system in its artificial islands in the disputed waters would be discussed.
She also said about four to five other leaders have been requesting for a meeting with Duterte. But arrangements were still being worked out.
West said US President Donald Trump would not attend the summits. He will be represented by Vice President Mike Pence.
She also said that they were advised that Russian President Vladimir Putin would also be attending. Celerina Monte/DMS