Philippines's Duterte urges to fast-track RCEP negotiations

US President Donald Trump in front of Chinese premier Li Keqiang as they line up to enter the Special Gala Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Asean in Manila on Sunday

China's Premier Li Keqiang walks to the China-Asean summit at Manila.

Notable developments include the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEPA), ASEAN-Korea FTA (AKFTA) ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA), and ASEAN-India FTA (AIFTA) and completion of the Stage 1 of the AANZFTA General Review that seeks to enhance ASEAN's FTA with Australia and New Zealand.

The proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal could "reshape" the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (Asean) integration initiatives into a more committed and binding agreement, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

Together, the group encompasses a population of 3.4 billion people and a combined GDP of US$49.5 trillion, or approximately 39% of the global economy.

The "changing global economic landscape requires us to urgently bring the negotiations to a close", he said in his opening remarks at the start of the summit.

The leaders reiterated the "immense potential of RCEP, with the 16 participating countries accounting for nearly half of the world population, 31.6 percent of global output, 28.5 percent of global trade and a fifth of the global foreign direct investment inflows in 2016, to support job generation, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation, which would ultimately improve the living standards of our people".

The conclusion of RCEP will lead to the creation of the world's largest trade bloc and underscore the potential for the RCEP to serve as an engine for global growth.

Five years since its launch, there has been five ministerial meetings and 20 rounds of negotiations.

"Substantial conclusion to the RCEP negotiations refers to being able to settle the modalities of trade negotiations, services, and investments", Rodolfo said.

ASEAN has free trade agreements (FTA) with the six dialogue partners.

"The principle of flexibility is important", another source said.

Modi is now in the Philippines attending both the Asean and East Asia summits.

MANILA- The year 2017 witnessed ASEAN efforts to beef up its free trade agreements (FTAs) with its worldwide stakeholders gaining ground.

"Hopefully we can substantially conclude this year, so the full-fledged RCEP can be concluded next year under the Singapore chairmanship (of ASEAN)", Le said.



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