09:05 | 30/11/2018 Cooperation
(VEN) - Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told leaders at the 33rd ASEAN summit in Singapore this month that his country hoped negotiations on a major regional trade deal would take into account the development gap between its member states to ensure the interests of all signatories. Phuc affirmed Vietnam’s willingness to contribute to the ongoing efforts to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among the 10 ASEAN member states and six Asia-Pacific states: Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.
RCEP members account for nearly half the world population and contribute about 30 percent to the global gross domestic product (GDP) and more than one fourth of total export value worldwide.
The leaders of RCEP member countries gathered for their second summit within the framework of the ASEAN Summit, and adopted a joint statement expressing determination to conclude negotiations next year.
The RCEP has been under negotiation for six years, and its completion was widely expected in November 2018 after 24 official negotiating sessions and various mid-term ones. In 2018, negotiations were accelerated. Market access negotiations in the fields of goods, services and investment have yielded significant results but are still short of an agreement.
At the ASEAN Summit, Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong set out a list of major tasks on which the bloc should focus: building a firm foundation for ASEAN to function as a peaceful, stable and rules-based region; maintaining steady and dynamic economic growth; and enhancing the capability to cope with challenges threatening regional security and stability. The Singaporean PM emphasized that ASEAN had achieved positive results through regional dialogues and cooperation.
The leaders of other ASEAN countries shared the opinion that under the effective management of Singapore as the Chair of ASEAN 2018, regional cooperation yielded encouraging results. In the spirit of its theme for 2018, “Resilient and Innovative”, ASEAN has made further efforts to maintain its central role, strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms to contribute to regional peace and stability.
ASEAN leaders also discussed the challenges currently facing the bloc, including complicated changes in the global situation, as well as internal problems.
PM Phuc said ASEAN should promote its resilience and the spirit of innovation based on positive results it achieved in 2018.