In 2002, ASEAN member countries and China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties but the claimants of territories in the South China Sea-the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan-have yet to craft a binding code 17 years since the declaration was approved. The two diplomats spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly.
Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters that India made a decision to drop itself from the text-based conclusion. "Hence, the Philippines looks forward to the conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] soon".
The ASEAN leaders have lauded India's contribution in the region for peace and stability, senior officials have said here and also maintained that the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement could be reviewed.
Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries, including China, India and Japan, on Monday gave up on sealing a historic trade pact this year.
Our armies are jointly training African peacekeepers and USAID is working with India in third countries to promote child and maternal health development."The document stressed that USA vision and approach in the Indo-Pacific region aligns closely with Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, India's Act East Policy, Australia's Indo-Pacific concept, the Republic of Korea's New Southern Policy, and Taiwan's New Southbound Policy".
"Our decision was guided by the impact this agreement will have on the ordinary human beings of India and livelihood of people, including the poorest of the poor", she said.
If the free trade area - which would cover half of the world's population - is put into practice, trade and investment activities among RCEP nations would intensify on the back of measures like the elimination and reduction of tariffs.
Surjewala said farmers and MSMEs had genuine and unaddressed concerns about circumvention of Rules of Origin to dump Chinese goods; absence of safeguards to prevent against import surges at the cost of domestic industry and no assurance on market access for service and IT industry.
India imports far more from ASEAN - mostly cheap agricultural goods - than it exports to it, incurring large trade deficits with these countries.
With the Indian delegation engaged in last-minute negotiations with 10 ASEAN and five other countries, including China, to seal the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a Thai official said Sunday that an agreement is likely to be delayed till February 2020.
At their annual gathering, the ASEAN leaders meet in their own summit before meeting separately with their counterparts from outside the bloc, including the U.S., China, Japan, Australia and India.
O'Brien read a message from Trump inviting Asean leaders to summit in the US.
The US has accused China of bullying behaviour in the sea, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week the US has been too easy on China.
But pointedly, it was O'Brien who was representing the United States in Bangkok, as Asean leaders met, and then the expanded grouping of the East Asia Summit. "We are taking an open attitude - whenever India is ready, it's welcome to get onboard". Officials, however, said there were still final issues to be resolved by the 16 countries involved in the pact before it can be signed early next year.