Asia-wide free trade deal to partially 'insulate' region from US-China trade war: Lopez

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2019 04:20 PM

Manila Port Area. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

BANGKOK, Thailand - An Asia-wide free trade agreement could help insulate the effects of the on-going trade war between economic giants US and China, a trade official said Friday.

ASEAN leaders are expected to conclude negotiations on the Asia-wide free trade agreement or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Summit.

Talks on the trade pact, which includes 16 countries, could wrap up by November, he said.

“So at least in this part of the world, we would have this regional free trade agreement that can still improve the trading within the region and somehow be partially insulated from the impact of what’s going on between US and China,” Lopez said.

The free trade agreement will cover ASEAN’s 10 member-states plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Select Philippine exports to the European Union enjoy zero preferential duties under the GSP+ arrangement with the bloc. Talks for trade deals with South Korea and Chile, among others, are on-going.