Li’s Sin­ga­pore trip to boost talks on RCEP

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By MO JINGXI mo­jingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A timely real­iza­tion of the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship will help bet­ter ad­dress uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism in or­der to es­tab­lish a more open, in­clu­sive and rules-based in­ter­na­tional trad­ing sys­tem, a se­nior of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

The RCEP, cur­rently un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion, brings to­gether the 10 South­east Asian coun­tries of ASEAN, as well as China, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Mem­bers will gather in Sin­ga­pore next week on the side­lines of the 33rd ASEAN Sum­mit with hopes to have the RCEP deal largely sewn up by the end of the year, ac­cord­ing to Agence France-Presse.

“China stands ready to work with other par­ties to push for an agree­ment to be signed as early as pos­si­ble so as to ben­e­fit peo­ple in the re­gion,” said Chen Xiaodong, as­sis­tant for­eign min­is­ter, at a news brief­ing on Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang’s visit to Sin­ga­pore next week.

Li will elab­o­rate on China’s pol­icy and pro­pos­als for re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, and will an­nounce more than 30 new ini­tia­tives cov­er­ing such ar­eas as tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, trade and ed­u­ca­tion when at­tend­ing a series of high-level meet­ings in­clud­ing the 13th East Asia Sum­mit from Mon­day to Nov 16, Chen said.

“China ex­pects this year’s meet­ings to fo­cus on East Asia co­op­er­a­tion, jointly safe­guard­ing mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism, main­tain­ing free trade and in­ter­na­tional rules, and pro­mot­ing re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion.”

China-ASEAN co­op­er­a­tion has rep­re­sented pos­i­tive en­ergy for de­vel­op­ment in East Asia over the past 15 years since China and ASEAN es­tab­lished a strate­gic part­ner­ship, Chen added. “We have jointly pushed for­ward RCEP talks, pro­moted the es­tab­lish­ment of an East Asian eco­nomic com­mu­nity and guided the process of eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in the re­gion.”

Ear­lier this week, China and Sin­ga­pore con­cluded ne­go­ti­a­tions to up­grade a bi­lat­eral free trade agree­ment.

The sign­ing of the up­graded pro­to­col will be a key achieve­ment dur­ing Li’s of­fi­cial visit to Sin­ga­pore, the first by a Chi­nese pre­mier in 11 years, Chen said. “The up­graded FTA will help pro­mote deeper eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion in a wider range of ar­eas.”

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