Duterte stresses need for implementation of RCEP; says pact could “write rules of game of int’l trade order”

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday underscored the need for the implementation of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, noting that such could “provide size and scale to unleash new growth potentials and write the rules of the game of the international trade order.”

In his speech at the start of the RCEP Summit, Duterte, who is this year’s ASEAN chair, said that “when it enters into force,” the RCEP would be “one of the biggest trade agreements,” covering “almost half of the world’s population and more than a third of the (Gross Domestic Product).”

The RCEP is a  proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member-states—the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—and the six states with whom it has free trade agreements—China, Japan and South Korea of the ASEAN Plus Three; and India, Australia and New Zealand of the ASEAN Plus Six.

According to Duterte, five years since the RCEP negotiations were launched,  “we have greatly progressed” with five ministerial meetings and 20 rounds of negotiations.

“But changing the global economic landscape requires us to bring the negotiations to a close and to create deeper trade linkages that would demonstrate our commitment to free and open markets,” he said.

But he said with the very first RCEP summit, he was “optimistic” negotiations would be “steered to a close.”