A visiting high-level Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang has underscored the crucial role of the Philippines in the proposed China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
In a meeting between the Chinese delegation and the Philippine government, Carlos Dominguez III, Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, shared the Duterte administration’s optimism on the early conclusion of the talks on the China-led RCEP.
“We look forward to continue the discussions on the promotion of free trade partnership via the RCEP where China is also taking the lead,” Dominguez said.
“We are very much optimistic of (RCEP’s) early conclusion which would help us further diversify our export markets,” he added.
Wang cited the Philippines’ irreplaceable role in the discussions of RCEP and highlighted that ‘Asean centrality’ will be crucial in the conclusion of the agreement, the DOF said.
According to the Asean website, the RCEP negotiations were launched by leaders from the 10 Asean member-states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam) and six Asean free trade partners (Australia, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand) during the 21st Asean Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012.
Its membership of 16 Asian countries account for almost half of the world’s population, almost 30 percent of global gross domestic product and over a quarter of world exports.
It covers trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights, competition policy, and dispute settlement, among other issues. It does not cover labor, environment and state-owned enterprises.
Wang also expressed China’s support for the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Asean, which is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year.
According to the DOF, Wang emphasized during that meeting that China considers the Asean as a “diplomatic priority” and that the Philippines, as chair of the Asean this year, will “make a big contribution in the regional cooperation.”
“Secretary Dominguez responded that together with China, the Asean can lead growth in the regional economic front that is not only a rapid one but inclusive to all members of society,” the DOF said.
Dominguez said earlier the Duterte administration’s move towards greater integration with other Asian economies would lead to substantial investment inflows this year, as well as rapid tourism growth and robust exports that would benefit not only big businesses but micro and small enterprises as well.
“The stronger linkages we now forge with our development partners and regional neighbors will provide new drivers for the growth of our domestic economy,” he noted.
According to Dominguez, the latest round of high-level dialogues between the Philippines and China has paved the way to a decisively progressive and productive cooperation between the two countries.