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33RD ASEAN SUMMIT

Duterte calls for ‘swift’ conclusion of RCEP trade deal

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 01:42 AM November 14, 2018
Rodrigo Duterte poses for selfies in Singapore

President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a selfie with his supporters on the sidelines of his attendance at the opening ceremony of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (Photo by VALERIE ESCALERA / Presidential Photographers Division)

SINGAPORE — President Rodrigo Duterte called on Asean-member states for the “swift” conclusion of the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) after Asia-Pacific trade ministers failed to reach their year-end target of a “substantial conclusion” during the economic ministers’ meeting here.

Duterte tagged RCEP, a free trade between Southeast Asian countries and key partners, as “a centerpiece of Asean’s external economic relations.

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“We must therefore work towards the swift conclusion of RCEP negotiations,” the President said in his intervention during a working dinner with Asean leaders on Tuesday night.

“Amidst prevailing uncertainties in the global economy, we must continue supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system. Trade actions contrary to this benefit no one and only threaten the prospects of economic growth,” he added.

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Despite the the failure to achieve a region-wide trade pact, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said trade ministers had reached “the final stage of negotiation.”

READ: Conclusion for RCEP trade deal moved to 2019

“[We have] progressed significantly when it comes to the discussion on the regional comprehensive economic partnership,” he said.

“We are determined to finish everything by next year, 2019,” he added. “There is a big likelihood, and we even would like to have conclusion and signing by next year as well.” /atm

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TAGS: Asean Summit, Free trade, RCEP, Rodrigo Duterte
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