ASEAN, HK expect to sign trade, investment deals in November

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In file photo, ASEAN flags are arranged just before the start of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting hosted by the Philippines. PHOTO FROM ASEAN 2017 WEBSITE

MANILA – The Philippines is optimistic over five agreements and declarations, including the long-awaited free trade and investment agreements between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Hong Kong, will be signed by November.

Zaldy Patron, Executive Director at the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Office of ASEAN Affairs, said the ASEAN-Hong Kong free trade agreement (FTA) and ASEAN-Hong Kong investment agreement are expected to be signed during the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings here.

“It will be the seventh FTA partner of ASEAN. It will increase trade, goods and services between the two countries. It will expand the market of ASEAN,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of public symposium on ASEAN economic integration organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on Thursday.

Patron said ASEAN member states are looking at 30 deliverables during the ASEAN Summit. “(These are) outcome documents in different pillars and at various levels. Some of them will be adopted by the (ASEAN) Leaders, some will be adopted by the ministers. There are different categories. Some documents will be signed by the Leaders, some will be adopted, some will be noted,” he said.

Apart from these agreements, Patron said there are deliverables in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) pillar targeted before the year ends.

Likewise, he identified the declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers and that on marine protection.

Under the declaration, ASEAN member states recognized the importance of adopting appropriate and comprehensive migration policies on migrant workers.

They also acknowledged the need to address cases of abuse and violence against migrant workers, whenever such cases occur.

The Philippine year-long hosting of the 50th ASEAN Summit will culminate with the Leaders’ meeting.

ASEAN groups 10 countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.