Ministers, officials hold preparatory meets for ASEAN Summit

By Kris Crismundo

November 10, 2017, 2:52 pm

CLARK, Pampanga -- Ministers and senior officials of the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are holding a series of preparatory meetings here from Nov. 10 to 11 for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Manila next week.
The Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to ASEAN kicked off the meetings at the ASEAN Convention Center in Clark on Friday morning.
The ASEAN Senior Economic Officials’ Preparatory Meeting (Prep-SEOM) also took place here Friday, to gear up for the meetings of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) in Manila on Nov.12.  
At the same time, the Senior Economic Officials (SEO) from China, Japan, and South Korea are joining the ASEAN SEOM for the Prep-SEOM Plus Three Consultations also here Friday.
The economic ministers are expected to meet next week for the Preparatory Meeting of the AEM, the15th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the Preparatory Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Ministerial Meeting (Prep-RCEP MM), where they will be joined by economic ministers from Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, and India.
Among the highlights of the Philippine chairmanship of the ASEAN Summit is the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA), which will be signed on Sunday. Hong Kong will be ASEAN’s seventh economy with the free trade deal.
In 2015, ASEAN was Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner, while Hong Kong was the seventh largest trading partner for the region.
On Saturday, the ASEAN Senior Officials and the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) will hold their respective Preparatory Meetings.
The ASEAN-led RCEP are pushing for significant outcomes this year for the new free trade bloc.
The 16 participating countries of the RCEP account for 30 percent of the global economy and almost half of the world’s population. (PNA)