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Asean, Japan focusing on curbing protectionism

The Asean Economic Ministers and key Japanese government officials have tackled the need to further limit protectionism in their respective countries in a meeting held in Tokyo last week.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said this yesterday in a Viber message to reporters, noting that the matter of protectionism remained as tendencies and not actual policies due to fear of repercussions.

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Lopez is in Japan this week with other Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) for the AEM roadshow. In a statement, he said the ministers had met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko.

“We discussed adherence to continuing globalization and freer trade, limiting protectionism moves, a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), encouraging innovation and inclusive growth and development of MSMEs,” he said in a text message.

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Asked to clarify how they would limit protectionism, he said discussions were general in nature, noting that they had talked about tendencies for limiting trade since there were no actual policies in place.

“Assessment is it may not really happen given the repercussions,” he said.

He said this meant that the RCEP talks played an increasingly important role as a multilateral trade deal that would push through, which persisted amidst low chances for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega trade deal that might not push through without US participation.

Negotiations for the RCEP started in 2012 in Phnom Penh, including the 10 member states of the Asean and six dialogue partners: Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Japan and China.

The RCEP countries account for nearly 30 percent of global trade and are projected to have a combined gross domestic product of about $22.7 trillion.

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TAGS: asean economic ministers, curbing protectionism, Japanese government officials, Secretary Ramon M. Lopez
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