Lee emphasised the need for ASEAN countries to be united to avoid repercussions amid trade tensions between the United States and its long-time trading partners, including China, the EU and Canada.
“Trade tensions between the U.S. and our other dialogue partners including China, the EU and Canada have escalated. The rules-based multilateral trading system which has underpinned ASEAN’s growth and prosperity is under pressure. It’s important that ASEAN continues to support the multilateral system and work with like-minded partners to deepen our web of cooperation,” Lee said.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in his remarks was confident the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement between ASEAN countries and six Asia-Pacific states including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and News Zealand, would be finalised by the end of the year.
“ASEAN’s efforts to improve trade facilitation in the region are bearing fruit, the negotiations on the RCEP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, have taken an encouraging step forward and at the fifth inter-sessional ministerial meeting held in July, our ministers in charge of economies committed to substantially conclude the RCEP by the end of this year,” he said.