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ASEAN economic ministers to advance RCEP talks in Manila this week

Economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are converging in the Philippines this week, to discuss how they can advance the planned Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said ASEAN economic ministers will arrive in Manila to discuss the planned free trade agreement.

"RCEP. And pursuing talks with dialogue partners on trade cooperation," he said.

The partnership is a free trade agreement (FTA) among ASEAN member nations and their non-ASEAN trading partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.

ASEAN counts as members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Last May, Lopez urged ASEAN to speed up and complete the RCEP negotiations by the end of the year as the Philippines wants the talks concluded during its chairmanship of 2017 ASEAN Summit.

"RCEP is imperative as it holds many opportunities for all parties involved. With our markets integrated, we will be more attractive and competitive in partnering for change and engaging the world," he said.

ASEAN leaders earlier emphasized the importance of having an FTA to shield the region from disruptive protectionist policies.

ASEAN trade ministers will also meet their counterparts from Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, and the United States in Manila this week to discuss other economic cooperation.

"At the end of the day, what we will value is how these meetings concretely translate to creating more and better opportunities for ASEAN citizens to experience inclusive growth that leads to region-wide prosperity, as we partner for change and engage the world," Lopez said. 

Source: GMA News

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