President Duterte takes a swipe at US over its retreat from TPP and pledges his backing for China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also called for unity among the members of ASEAN.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also called for unity among the members of ASEAN.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday took a swipe at the Trump administration's withdrawal from a major free trade deal known as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

During a speech at the closing ceremony of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, Duterte gave his backing to a planned trade pact backed by China called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

"ASEAN has a bigger stake than any part of the world in standing up against protectionism and securing the rules of the game in the international trade," he told delegates.

Duterte also called for unity among the members of ASEAN.

TRT World spoke to journalist Dean Bernardino in Manila for more details

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

Duterte said RCEP "will provide further impetus to our efforts," adding he hoped negotiations on the Beijing-led deal "should conclude swiftly."

He then added a jab over TPP's collapse.

"(I'm) reminded that the Transpacific, it was a dream, is no longer there," he said.

Before Trump's withdrawal, TPP would have covered 40 percent of the global economy.

In response to TPP, Beijing has been pushing RCEP, a more modest deal that prescribes lower and more limited regulatory standards.

The pact would group China with the 10 ASEAN members plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Throughout the security forum of regional foreign ministers that ended on Tuesday, multiple countries voiced specific concerns about rising protectionism, including Japan, South Korea, China and the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

North Korea missiles

The ASEAN summit saw heated discussions about North Korea's missile tests and South China Sea disputes at the security forum on Monday.

Most countries believed the new sanctions passed by the UN Security Council on Pyongyang should be fully implemented.

South China Sea

On Sunday, foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The move was hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies