China trade deal to boost region
The Philippines’ chief economic manager is still pushing for the massive deal covering Asean and its free-trade partners such as China to sustain fast growth and poverty reduction across the region.
“The RCEP, which we support with vigor, will be the centerpiece of our collective efforts to build beneficial multilateral partnerships. The well-developed relationship between China and the Asean form the core of this emerging partnership,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said at a forum in Guangzhou, China, during the weekend.
Dominguez was referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will ideally group Asean and six other countries with which it has existing regional free-trade agreements, (FTA) namely: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
However, India this month decided to abandon RCEP negotiations amid fears that a surge in imports would harm its agriculture and industry sectors.
Dominguez nonetheless described RCEP as a “game-changer for all our economies.”
“We look forward to the finalization of agreements for the RCEP. With this framework for enhancing trade and investment, the development of the economies of the region will be further enhanced. We will be able to build a sanctuary for free trade and investment cooperation against the forces of protectionism elsewhere. This will be a major force shaping the development of the world’s economy,” Dominguez said.
“The prosperity and well-being of billions of people in our region will depend on how we can foster growth through increased connectivity and increased integration of our economies,” he added.
For Dominguez, rising trade protectionism was slowing the global economy.
“Fortunately, in this part of the world, there is consensus that free trade and more efficient movement of capital is the correct way to go. While protectionism plagues other parts of the world, the economies of Southeast Asia have invested in the free flow of goods, capital and services. This is a major reason why the economies of this region continue to lead in growth,” he said.
With China as a partner of not only the Philippines but also the entire Asean region in free trade, Dominguez said he was optimistic that the benefits would be reaped by more people.
“Enhancing our cooperation with China is essential in ensuring the region’s vibrant economic future and achieving our shared goal of dramatically reducing poverty among our peoples,” according to Dominguez.
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