ASEAN, China eye completion of draft South China Sea code by 2019

ASEAN, China eye completion of draft South China Sea code by 2019

ASEAN, China eye completion of draft South China Sea code by 2019

Working towards the full liberalisation of the ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement, mobilising private capital and using global financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Asian Development Bank to close ASEAN's infrastructure financing gap will also help, Mr Lee said.

"We have found the way to properly manage and defuse differences, for example, on the issue of the South China Sea in the past years", Li said, adding that the situation was moving toward "greater stability" with progress toward a single draft text on a code of conduct in the sea.

ASEAN needs to continuously expand its market by engaging in Free-Trade Agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), but it must also be steadfast not to resort to unfair deals or pacts that give dominance to anyone.

"It's going to send a message to the worldwide community that we stand by free trade... with rising protectionism and strains on free trade we need to advance the RCEP negotiations", Li said.

"It can not be signed this year", RCEP trade negotiating committee chairman Iman Pambagyo said on Tuesday last week.

India's concerns over opening its markets to competition, in particular from Chinese firms, has been a key sticking point in the several years of negotiations.

The agreement on e-commerce was signed by ASEAN trade ministers, including Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita. Locked in a trade war with the United States, China is aiming to reach trade deals with the bloc.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN and APEC summits, Moon also plans to hold a series of one-on-one meetings with other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. "We are willing to negotiate with all sides to push ahead with free trade internationally, and we're also willing to discuss a fairer system".

Not only is the United States absent from the deal, but Trump is skipping the summit in Singapore.

"These strategic trends of big power competition and shifts against multilateralism are pulling Asean member states in different directions", Lee said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Singapore this evening to attend the 13th East Asia Summit, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other associated meetings of the ASEAN Summit now underway.

Dr Mahathir said as far as Malaysia is concerned, the country would be happy to be involved in a trade pact that provides benefits to the developing countries, especially in integrating companies from developing countries and less developed countries into the global supply chain.

The meeting was held amid warnings that the post-World War Two worldwide order is in jeopardy and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing could trigger a "domino effect" of protectionist measures by other countries.

"It is not the time to close our doors by invoking trade protectionism measures, instead we should be actively engaged in finding amicable solutions and resolving trade issues through multilateral dialogues such as between ASEAN countries".

Negotiations on the COC are expected to face delays because of China's negotiating strategy, which is to "deal with less powerful countries on a one-on-one basis" rather than allow ASEAN nations the benefit of collective bargaining, reports ABC-CBN.

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