China wants to conclude RCEP trade talks in 2017

rcep-statement

By Janne Suokas, December 27, 2016 | GB Times

China said on Monday that it would step up free trade talks next year and strive to conclude negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP is a proposed free trade area consisting of ten ASEAN member countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam – their six major trading partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

It is considered a rival trade deal to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to dump on the day he takes office.

Zhang Xiaogang, Director General of the Department of International Trade and Economic Relations of the Chinese commerce ministry, said the RCEP trade talks were “showing good momentum” with progress achieved on both traditional trade liberalisation issues as well as e-commerce and other areas.

“The RCEP negotiations are doomed to be a complex process […] but the determination and willingness of the parties to accelerate negotiations is unchanged,” Zhang told Xinhua (link in Chinese).

The latest of round of the RCEP talks, which began in 2012, were held in Indonesia in early December, with the next round due to take place in Japan in February.

Excluded from the 12-nation TPP, China has lent strong support to the ASEAN-led initiative, which aims to create a free trade area accounting for half of the world’s population and a third of the global GDP.

Following Trump’s election as the next US president and the likely demise of the TPP, the RCEP has emerged as the front runner for an Asia-wide free trade deal, attracting fresh interest from countries like Peru on the other side of the Pacific.

Philippines now “more open” to RCEP

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ government said on Monday that it was more open to joining the RCEP in a bid to improve trade and investment to the country.

“I personally would like to look at RCEP closely because that’s the 10 ASEAN countries, I think. That one, we are more open to,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement.

Dominquez said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was thoroughly studying proposed free trade agreements, including a possible free trade deal with the European Union, while pushing for stronger integration with neighbouring countries in Asia.

“So we have to think about [these] very carefully, we are a new administration, we want to see the pros and cons, we want to see how we will benefit,” Dominguez said.

The Philippines is involved with the RCEP talks but is not included in the TPP.

Faced with criticism from the US and the EU over his tough anti-crime campaign, Duterte has sought to improve diplomatic and economic ties with China, despite the two countries’ conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China said on Monday that it would step up free trade talks next year and strive to conclude negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP is a proposed free trade area consisting of ten ASEAN member countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam – their six major trading partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

It is considered a rival trade deal to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to dump on the day he takes office.

Zhang Xiaogang, Director General of the Department of International Trade and Economic Relations of the Chinese commerce ministry, said the RCEP trade talks were “showing good momentum” with progress achieved on both traditional trade liberalisation issues as well as e-commerce and other areas.

“The RCEP negotiations are doomed to be a complex process […] but the determination and willingness of the parties to accelerate negotiations is unchanged,” Zhang told Xinhua (link in Chinese).

The latest of round of the RCEP talks, which began in 2012, were held in Indonesia in early December, with the next round due to take place in Japan in February.

Excluded from the 12-nation TPP, China has lent strong support to the ASEAN-led initiative, which aims to create a free trade area accounting for half of the world’s population and a third of the global GDP.

Following Trump’s election as the next US president and the likely demise of the TPP, the RCEP has emerged as the front runner for an Asia-wide free trade deal, attracting fresh interest from countries like Peru on the other side of the Pacific.

Philippines now “more open” to RCEP

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ government said on Monday that it was more open to joining the RCEP in a bid to improve trade and investment to the country.

“I personally would like to look at RCEP closely because that’s the 10 ASEAN countries, I think. That one, we are more open to,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement.

Dominquez said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was thoroughly studying proposed free trade agreements, including a possible free trade deal with the European Union, while pushing for stronger integration with neighbouring countries in Asia.

“So we have to think about [these] very carefully, we are a new administration, we want to see the pros and cons, we want to see how we will benefit,” Dominguez said.

The Philippines is involved with the RCEP talks but is not included in the TPP.

Faced with criticism from the US and the EU over his tough anti-crime campaign, Duterte has sought to improve diplomatic and economic ties with China, despite the two countries’ conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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