Philippine Minister of Industry and Trade Ramon Lopez (Photo: Philippine Star)
 

Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines, host of this year’s ASEAN meetings, vowed on March 6 to push for the substantial conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) designed to broaden and deepen cooperation between ASEAN and its six dialogue partners.

RCEP will expand the ASEAN market from 600 million to 3.5 billion people, said Philippine Minister of Industry and Trade Ramon Lopez.

Boosting trade and investment in the region is also on the agenda of the three-day ASEAN trade ministers’ meeting which kicks off on March 8.

He also noted that the meeting will focus on the creation a stable policy environment and the right mix of support programmes to improve the capacity of enterprises to expand.

RCEP focuses on non-tariff barriers, streamlining and harmonising customs procedures and making them more consistent than existing agreements.

The agreement covers trade in goods, services, investment, technical and economic cooperation, small and medium enterprises and dispute settlement.

RCEP negotiations began in November 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and was scheduled to conclude by the end of 2015. When this deadline has passed, negotiations are expected to be accelerated this year and experts predict that the deal could be achieved.-VNA