President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday endorsed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the economic agreement between the 10-member Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its six free trade agreement partners.
“The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP will provide further impetus to our efforts. Negotiations should conclude swiftly as decided by RCEP leaders in 2016,” Duterte said during his speech at the 50th ASEAN anniversary celebration at the Philippine International Convention Center.
“I was reminded that the Trans-Pacific [Partnership], it was a dream that was no longer there,” he added.
The ASEAN is composed of the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei and its six free trade agreement partners include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
In December last year, Duterte said he was glad that US President Donald Trump had rejected the TPP.
The President had said that had the TPP pushed through, one of the negative impacts it would have on the country is its access to cheaper medicines.
“We have a law governing generic so we can buy cheaper medicines. Kung mag-TPP ka, hindi ka makapabili ng generic,” he said then.
The Beijing-backed RCEP is less comprehensive than TPP and its main focus is reducing tariffs. Coverage of services is more modest than in the TPP, and it would not have protection for labor rights or the environment. —with Reuters/ALG, GMA News