China-led trade pact RCEP gets support from Southeast Asian leaders

24 Juin, 2019, 01:31 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Southeast Asian nations vow to combat plastic debris in oceans

Neither the declaration nor its accompanying Framework of Action specifically mention bans on single-use plastic or imports of foreign waste, as environmental groups previously demanded ahead of the summit.

A "Bangkok Declaration" on combatting marine waste was also endorsed at the weekend summit, though environmentalists argued it does not do enough to reduce the region's mounting plastic problem.

"Every country emphasizes the importance of the RCEP negotiation".

Southeast Asian diplomats have told The Associated Press that the first of three rounds of talks on the proposed pact was expected to be completed this year.

"This mechanism will strengthen ASEAN economically and can be linked up with other regional economic cooperation frameworks".

Southeast Asian leaders gathered in Bangkok on Saturday determined to drive forward the world's largest commercial pact, with the trade war between the United States and China clouding the outlook for their export-led economies.

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The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes all 10 ASEAN economies, plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. ASEAN has existing free-trade agreements with all six countries. "The partnership will be an important strategy to drive members' GDP growth and attract investments to Asean", Lt Gen Werachon said.

Formed more than 50 years ago, ASEAN has historically struggled with challenges facing the region because it works only by consensus and is reluctant to become involved in any matter regarded as internal to a member state.

Southeast Asian leaders made an impassioned plea against protectionism at a regional summit in Bangkok Sunday, warning that a dragging US-China trade spat could hammer their export-led economies.

Other issues, including dispute settlement and the exclusion of certain goods, still need to "ironed out", said a Malaysian Foreign Ministry official Sunday.

A controversial plan to repatriate the persecuted Rohingya minority and ongoing tussles in the disputed South China Sea were also tackled by leaders at the summit, which Thailand is chairing this year. Seen here are Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, chairman of 34th ASEAN Summit, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Duterte has always been criticized for his warm ties with China which has been aggressively militarizing the South China Sea and encroaching on contested areas there.

Myanmar and Thailand have expressed interest in co-hosting the Under-20 World Cup in 2021, football's global governing body Fifa said last month, with Indonesia among the countries who are considering an individual bid for the tournament.

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