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Philippines' Duterte skips ASEAN meetings to take 'power naps'

15 November, 2018, 12:12 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • The integrated command centre of the RSS Sovereignty. The Singapore Armed Forces will deploy over 40 assets from several task forces to secure Singapore's airspace and surrounding waters during the Summit

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.

China's escalating trade war and geopolitical rivalry with the United States has given it added impetus to conclude the RCEP talks, which began in 2013. Both sides should seize the opportunity to push for substantial progress on COC talks, Li said at the 44th Singapore Lecture co-organised by the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute and Business China.

US Vice President Mike Pence will attend the Singapore meetings instead of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly panned existing multilateral trade pacts as unfair and has railed against China over intellectual property theft, entry barriers to American businesses and a yawning US trade gap.

Mr Duterte has been in Singapore for the 33rd Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, but a spokesperson revealed the President had cancelled his attendance for a number of events.

"With the headwind of trade protectionism, free trade is facing some difficulties", Li said.

China's Li is expected to rally support at the Singapore meetings for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade pact that will encompass more than a third of the world's GDP.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the region has set a good example of managing those territorial disputes and keeping the peace as it works toward setting a "code of conduct" to govern navigation and other activities.

Three days after taking office, Trump pulled out of a Pacific Rim trade initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Imelda Marcos given lengthy prison term in graft case
Imelda Marcos was convicted on two counts of corruption in 1993, but the Philippine Supreme Court overturned both convictions. Imelda Marcos, 89, was the wife of late president Ferdinand Marcos, and famous for owning 1,000 pairs of shoes.

"The future lies in RCEP", Indian trade minister Suresh Prabhu told reporters, but urged a patient approach to talks to ensure "every country will benefit from it".

Asian nations have given up hopes of completing a 16-nation trade bloc this year, with Chinese and Australian officials now looking to finalize the deal next year.

However, the Beijing-backed pact is much less ambitious than the TPP in areas such as employment and environmental protection.

Modi said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi's growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

Also, the spectre of possible leadership changes with several general elections scheduled early next year - India, Thailand, and Indonesia - have also complicated the timeline for a deal.

Duterte is also creating some concern for comments he made before meeting with the Chinese Premier, which seem to indicate that his administration will defer to China on how the Philippines should conduct affairs in the South China Sea.

Officials said the trip to the city-state is aimed at upgrading cooperative relations with ASEAN through expanding trade and people-to-people exchanges, strengthening regional crisis management capabilities and speeding up discussions on how to respond jointly to the fourth industrial revolution.

In an ambush interview before attending the Asean-India Informal Breakfast Summit here, Duterte was asked if he is in favor of holding military drills in the South China Sea.


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