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Premier Li’s Singapore trip to boost talks on RCEP

Mo Jingxi
Updated: Nov 9,2018 8:35 AM     China Daily

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 Nov 8.

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.

Premier 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 Nov 12 to 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 Premier 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.”