ASEAN trade leaders sign e-commerce agreement

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — The economic managers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have united to come up with an agreement regulating online trade.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said, in a press conference in Singapore, ASEAN economic managers signed the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce.

"Yesterday we signed the e-commerce agreement. The 10 member countries agreement on e-commerce is basically to encourage and institute rules that govern e-commerce," Lopez said.

Singapore is the current host of the ASEAN Summit, attended by leaders of member nations. President Rodrigo Duterte and his economic managers are attending for the Philippines.

"So ibig sabhin among ASEAN countries magtutulungan po tayo dyan sa mga bagay-bagay to govern e-commerce, to facilitate cross-border e-commerce, yung paperless trading, yung mga electronic authentication, electronic signature acceptance, etc.," Lopez added.

[Translation: This means that ASEAN countries will help each other to govern e-commerce, facilitate cross-border e-commerce, paperless trading, electronic authentication, electronic signature acceptance, etc.]

He said with the growing popularity of online shopping as technology becomes more advanced, the agreement also facilitates cooperation in the fields of information and communications technology, online consumer protection, legal and regulatory e-commerce frameworks, electronic payments and cybersecurity.

Another product of the meeting among ASEAN economic managers is the looming conclusion to the final version of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

"The overall summary on where we are right now, the RCEP discussion experienced a significant progress this year, reaching final stage of negotiation," Lopez said.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between ASEAN member states, and the nearby states of China, Japan, India, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.

"Everybody can expect its conclusion next year. That's the target date for the conclusion of the RCEP," the trade secretary said.

The 33rd ASEAN Summit, hosted by Singapore, will conclude on November 15.