Duterte takes swipe at US over TPP col­lapse

New Straits Times - - World -

MARY HO, 81-year-old Sin­ga­porean gui­tarist MANILA: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte yes­ter­day took a swipe at the United States’ re­treat from a ma­jor free trade deal, join­ing Asian na­tions at a fo­rum this week in crit­i­cis­ing ris­ing pro­tec­tion­ism.

Un­til re­cently, China and the US were both push­ing sweep­ing free trade deals that ex­cluded each other.

But shortly af­ter tak­ing of­fice in Jan- uary, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP), which he de­scribed as a “job killer”.

The move de­liv­ered a ham­mer blow to the 11 other na­tions who spent seven years ne­go­ti­at­ing what was billed as the world’s largest trade deal.

Dur­ing a speech cel­e­brat­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of Asean here, Duterte gave his back­ing to a planned trade pact backed by China known as the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP).

“Asean has a big­ger stake than any part of the world in stand­ing up against pro­tec­tion­ism and se­cur­ing the rules of the game in the in­ter­na­tional trade.”

RCEP, he said, “will pro­vide fur­ther im­pe­tus to our ef­forts”, adding that he hoped ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Bei­jing-led deal “should con­clude swiftly”.

He then added a jab over TPP’s col­lapse.

“I’m re­minded that the Transpa­cific, it was a dream, is no longer there,” he said.

Be­fore Trump’s with­drawal, TPP would have cov­ered 40 per cent of the global econ­omy. AFP

Ro­drigo Duterte

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