China to Push Forward Upgraded China-ASEAN FTA, Enhance Cooperation with ASEAN – Vice Premier

China to Push Forward Upgraded China-ASEAN FTA, Enhance Cooperation with ASEAN – Vice Premier

(Courtesy CCTV) — China is willing to work with ASEAN to push forward an upgraded China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and enhance production capacity cooperation with ASEAN, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Friday.

Zhang made the comments at the opening ceremony of the 12th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

“The world political and economic structure is in process of profound reform. China and ASEAN have to strengthen cooperation, build a community of common interest, common destiny and common responsibility with political mutual trust, integrated economy and inclusive culture. Only by this, can China and ASEAN effectively cope with the difficulties and challenges to achieve further development respectively,” said Zhang.

Zhang stressed that China stands ready to work together with ASEAN to push forward the implementation of China-ASEAN “2+7” cooperation framework and promote the further development of the strategic partnership with the aim of building the “Belt and Road” together and forming a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.

The vice premier put forward six proposals:

First of all, China and ASEAN should promote political mutual trust, strengthening the strategic docking between China and ASEAN.

Secondly, China and ASEAN should further enhance economic and trade cooperation, jointly create an upgraded China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

China is willing to cooperate with ASEAN to jointly boost the negotiation process of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and promote the development of the regional economic integration, said Zhang.

Thirdly, China and ASEAN should push international production capacity cooperation, in order to realize mutual benefit and win-win result of a high level.

“China is willing to launch international productivity capacity cooperation with ASEAN in electric power, engineering machinery, construction materials, communication and other fields, in order to enhance global competitiveness of the industries of China and ASEAN,” said Zhang.

Fourthly, China and ASEAN should strengthen the construction of interconnection, and establish an effective and convenient infrastructure network.

China is willing to work with ASEAN, to establish China-ASEAN information harbor, improve the information infrastructure for interconnection, and boost cooperation in various fields via information networks, Zhang added.

Fifthly, China and ASEAN should further develop marine cooperation and build a cooperative marine partnership.

He said that China is willing to make join efforts with ASEAN countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea. The two sides should push forward the joint ocean development and put forth effort to make the marine cooperation a new highlight as well as a new driving force for the development of China-ASEAN relationship, he added.

Sixthly, China and ASEAN should work closely in cultural exchange, continuously consolidate the foundation of good-neighborly relationship.

“With the difficult and tortuous journey of the current world economic recovery, China is willing to work with ASEAN to make use of each others’ advantages for mutual benefit and win-win results, jointly overcome difficulties and challenges that we face, and promote the strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy, as well as the development and prosperity of the region,” said Zhang.

The expo, held from Friday to Monday, carries the theme “creating a new blueprint for maritime cooperation by jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.”

Initiated in 2004, the expo serves as an important platform to promote bilateral trade and relationships between China and the ASEAN.

China is the ASEAN’s largest trading partner, while ASEAN ranks as China’s third-largest trading partner.

Bilateral trade between China and the ASEAN increased 8.23 percent year on year to 480 billion U.S. dollars in 2014.

[CCTV+ through Reuters]

PAGASA Identifies Provinces to be Affected by ‘strong El Niño’

PAGASA Identifies Provinces to be Affected by ‘strong El Niño’


QUEZON City, Philippines (Eagle News) — The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has identified provinces that were affected by dry spell.

PAGASA said that provinces of Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte and Bohol will likely experience the ongoing El Niño that is now present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

According to Anthony Lucero, Chief Climate Monitoring and Prediction of PAGASA, the country is now experiencing the strong El Niño developing in the state.

Lucero added that although the El Niño is still officially classified as a moderate strength event, a “strong” El Niño will be officially declared by the end of the month. (Eagle News Service)

APEC SOM Chair Highlights Importance of Internet in Economy, Education


(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Chairperson of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials’ Meeting, Laura del Rosario, said she hopes the meetings on Internet connectivity would convince APEC member economies of the importance of the Internet in economic development and education.

During a press conference here on Friday, del Rosario was asked if she thinks the discussions here in Cebu could bring in more investments to improve the speed of Internet connections in the country.

“It is not a matter of whether they will invest in Internet connectivity. What we are trying to say is that it will somehow remind all governments that Internet connection is very important,” she said in response.

“The speed of Internet is really necessary for us to move forward. I believe that there are many Filipino investors, entrepreneurs, who can do their own investments in Internet connectivity.”

Del Rosario further said that they are making sure that in discussing Internet connections, connectivity would become a priority for government planning.

“Therefore, this will be part of the things we are looking at in the telecommunications sector,” she said.

The telecommunications sector is part of the working groups of the APEC and del Rosario said they are also looking at security issues because the Internet is also about ensuring a secure cyberspace.

At the same time, she said she hopes that local investors who have enough resources would study how the country could expand and improve its broadband connectivity to allow more people to access the Internet.

Del Rosario also highlighted the importance of connectivity to education, noting that the Internet also impacts the way governments educate their people. PND

APEC hopes Cebu Action Plan as inspiring as Bogor Goals

The Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) concluded on Sept. 11, 2015 with the launch of the Cebu Action Plan. During the joint press conference, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima described the Plan as a voluntary roadmap toward a more prosperous, transparent, resilient, and connected Asia-Pacific region. (Photo courtesy APEC website)
The Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) concluded on Sept. 11, 2015 with the launch of the Cebu Action Plan. During the joint press conference, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima described the Plan as a voluntary roadmap toward a more prosperous, transparent, resilient, and connected Asia-Pacific region. (Photo courtesy APEC website)

MACTAN, Cebu – Finance Ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have one fervent wish for the Cebu Action Plan (CAP): that it may end up like the Bogor Goals of 1994.

“It is our hope,” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, “that the Cebu Action Plan is going to be referred to again and again in a similar way to how the trade ministers continually refer to the Bogor Goals of 1994 in order to gauge progress in their discussions.”

Adopted by APEC leaders during a meeting in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, Bogor Goals aim for free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. APEC members agreed to pursue this goal by further reducing barriers to trade and investment and by promoting the free flow of goods, services and capital. These targets are an ambitious manifestation of APEC’s common belief that free and open trade and investment are essential to realize the growth potential of the region and enhance economic and social outcomes for all APEC economies.

The Cebu Action Plan, on the other hand, was launched last Friday here with the goal of building an APEC community that is more financially integrated, transparent, resilient, and connected. It seeks to promote policies, rules and practices across APEC economies to support strong, sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth throughout the region

The Roadmap consists of four pillars: Promoting Financial Integration; Advancing Fiscal Reforms and Transparency; Enhancing Financial Resiliency; and Accelerating Infrastructure Development and Financing.

“This is a result of intensive involvement of every stakeholder from member economies to the international financial institutions and private sector leaders we engaged from Clark to Cebu,” said Secretary Purisima in a joint press conference.

He said APEC Finance Ministers offered flexibility in the framework to make sure it can accommodate changes, additions and give enough room for adjustment to the next hosts of the APEC Summit. Peru will be hosting in 2016 followed by Viet Nam in 2017.

According to Purisima, the idea is to make the Cebu Action Plan “a living document that allows it to grow as the members see fit.”

“That is the key to making sure this framework will see its vision of free trade and free flow of investments in the region, good governance and sound fiscal position, deeper financial markets that allow for financial inclusion and resilience to global market volatility and natural disasters, as well as more financing for infrastructure,” he pointed out. “I think in a sense making it more flexible allows it to address the needs of the region specially with the flexibility it will give to the next host.”

Purisima further noted that one of the reasons why APEC engaged the private sector in the whole process of drafting the Cebu Action Plan is to make sure that member economies will be able to achieve its short term initiatives.

“A lot of reforms or proposals will require cooperation between the public and private sectors,” he explained. “We heard a lot of feedback which I think we can bring to our respective countries so we can be more responsive to the needs of businesses and bring to life the various pillars of the Cebu Action Plan.”

“This will be a work in progress,” the finance secretary added. “This will be a journey. The important thing is we don’t lose sight of vision and the benefits to us of achieving that vision.”

On Saturday, Purisima said he is scheduled to meet with officials of Peru, the next APEC host, to turn over the framework agenda and “to make sure they will continue to give life to the Cebu Action Plan.”

“We will work closely with our colleagues from Peru to ensure there is proper turnoever of the Cebu Action Plan,” he disclosed.

So what is next for the Philippines after successfully overseeing the launching of the Cebu Action Plan?

“These four pillars apply to us also,” said Purisima. “We would like to implement them on our own as it refers to domestic issues.”

“We will also continue to work with our other colleagues so we can share our own best practices and we can learn from them their own best practices,” he added. (from PND/acg)

After APEC, Philippines to host ASEAN

The Philippines will be hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s summit in 2017.
The information came from the Department of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima in the middle of the press briefing of the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers’ meeting on Friday and launching of the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

Purisima, however, did not cite further details of the hosting.

Cebu organizing committee overall Chair Lito Maderazo believes Cebu is ready to accommodate ASEAN meetings, following the success of the ASEAN Summit in 2007 and this year’s APEC ministers’ meeting in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-lapu.

By next month, there will be transportation and energy APEC meetings in Lapu-lapu City.
In November, leaders of the 21 economies of APEC will meet in manila.

By next year, Peru will host APEC, followed by Vietnam in 2017, according to Purisima.

UPDATE: Iglesia Ni Cristo members continue Peaceful Assembly during Day 3

MANILA, Philippines, August 29 (Eagle News) — The peaceful assembly of the #IglesiaNiCristo began on Thursday in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) was now moved to Edsa, Mandaluyong.

In an update report of Net25, #IglesiaNiCristo Spokesman Brother Edwil Zabala said that there were more members of the church coming from different ecclesiastical districts of #IglesiaNiCristo all over the country. More will be joining the peaceful assembly on Sunday, August 29.

(Photos courtesy of EBC Correspondents Leonie Laguinday, Lare Laviña)

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It is the third day of the INC’s peaceful rally and yet all brethren were enthusiastic as ever. (Photos courtesy of EBC Correspondent Eduardo Valencia Jr.)

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Japan and Vietnam discuss South China Sea crisis on sidelines of Mekong Summit

Japan and Vietnam discuss the South China Sea crisis on the sidelines of the Japan-Mekong Summit in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Japan and Vietnam discuss the South China Sea crisis on the sidelines of the Japan-Mekong Summit in Tokyo. (Reuters)

(Reuters) Japan and Vietnam discussed on Saturday (July 4) China’s recent maritime expansion in areas of the South China Sea over which several other countries have rival claims.

China has stoked regional tensions by building artificial islands in areas of the South China Sea that other countries have claimed as their own.

The talks between the two countries were held on the sidelines of a Japan-Mekong Summit in Tokyo.

“We shared our severe concerns about the change in the status quo in the South China Sea, with the large scale landfills and construction of military buildings,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters at the end of the bilateral meeting.

“Both sides have agreed to remind all parties to maintain the security of the region for the freedom of shipping lanes and flights, and to call upon all members to abide by international laws and the 1982 United Nations Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and not to complicate the situation or exacerbate the conflict,” added Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

In a veiled criticism of China’s recent maritime expansion, a summary of the Japan-Mekong cooperation agreement read, “Both sides noted concerns expressed over the recent development in the South China Sea, which will further complicate the situation and erode trust and confidence and may undermine regional peace, security and stability.”

Abe also met leaders of Cambodia and Laos after wrapping up the two-day meeting in Tokyo.

The Japan-Mekong summit ended with an announcement that Japan would extend 750 billion yen in development aid to Mekong region countries. Tokyo’s planned assistance over the next three years follows a pledged aid of 600 billion yen to the five nations in the preceding three-year period.

This is as China prepared to launch a new institutional lender seen as encroaching on the regional clout of Tokyo and ally Washington. It contrasts with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose projects Washington has said may not properly safeguard the environment.

Sino-Japanese relations have been plagued by territorial disputes and the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression, although ties have seen a thaw since Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first joint summit last year.