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PH eyes early signing of China-led trade pact

/ 12:08 AM March 21, 2017

The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team is pushing for swift discussions and early signing of the free trade agreement grouping Asean and six trading partners led by China.

During the visit of China Vice Premier Wang Yang in Davao City during the weekend, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the Philippine government was looking forward to continue the discussions on the promotion of free trade partnership via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] where China was also taking the lead.

“We are very much optimistic for its early conclusion, which would help us further diversify our export markets,” Dominguez said during the economic managers’ meeting with Wang.

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RCEP will group Asean and six other countries with which it has existing regional FTAs: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Negotiations to form the RCEP are ongoing.

For his part, Wang cited the Philippines’ irreplaceable role in the discussions of RCEP and highlighted that Asean centrality would be crucial in the conclusion of the agreement.

Wang was quoted by the DOF as saying that China considered Asean as a diplomatic priority and that the Philippines, as chair of Asean this year, would make a big contribution in the regional cooperation.

Dominguez responded that together with China, Asean could lead growth in the regional economic front that”is not only a rapid one but inclusive to all members of society.”

Last year, Dominguez said the Philippines would pursue membership in RCEP in line with the country’s pivot to China and other Asian countries.

In January, London-based economic research firm Capital Economics said closer ties with China had the potential to provide a significant boost to the rest of Asia after the formerly US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was abandoned by US President Trump. —Ben O. de Vera

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TAGS: China, free trade agreement, Trade
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