DFA: ASEAN pacts a priority

DFA: ASEAN pacts a priority

FULFILLING the Philippines’ existing economic cooperation agreements with member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) stands as a priority, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) underscored on Wednesday.

“We will focus on ongoing agreements since no (new) initiatives have been raised yet,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Espiritu told a news briefing, ahead of DFA Secretary Enrique A. Manalo’s scheduled participation in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ retreat on Jan. 28-29 in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Last November, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas signed a cooperation pact with other central banks in ASEAN to bolster collaboration on payment connectivity. “The Philippines’ plate is still full of (economic) agreements in ASEAN,” Mr. Espiritu said.

Moreover, Mr. Manalo is also set to attend the ASEAN-EU (European Union) ministerial meetings on Feb. 2 in Brussels, Belgium.

In a working paper last October, the International Monetary Fund reported that pushing for more free trade agreements in ASEAN, eliminating non-tariff barriers, strengthening global value chains, and boosting digitalization could boost Philippine economic growth. — John Victor D. Ordoñez