NONTHABURI, Thailand - President Rodrigo Duterte urged India to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in order to narrow the development gap.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President issued the statement during the ASEAN-India Summit Sunday.
Of the 16 parties to the China-backed free trade deal, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said 15 have approved of the rules, and are just awaiting the nod of one country.
India reportedly raised issues amid concerns that the free trade agreement may lead to Chinese products flooding their country.
Duterte also pushed for the RCEP in his intervention at the ASEAN Summit Plenary and the ASEAN-China Summit.
He said all parties should reaffirm their commitment to intensify efforts for the immediate conclusion of the negotiations on the free trade deal. The President added that such measures toward deeper economic integration are necessary amid the growing protectionism in the West.
The RCEP covers 30 percent of global GDP and half of the world’s population. Leaders of participating countries are scheduled to discuss the deal on Monday.
President Duterte, meanwhile, called for stronger trade between the ASEAN and China during the 10-member bloc’s one-on-one summit with Beijing.
“We should continue to strengthen trade, investment, and tourism flows between ASEAN and China, including through the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA),” he said.
“We welcome China’s continued support for ASEAN’s efforts to narrow the development gap among ASEAN Member States," Duterte added.
The President also welcomed China’s proposal for closer partnership with the ASEAN on the blue economy, tasking officials to continue studying the proposal.