MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) — The Philippines has followed New Zealand’s decision to reject Myanmar’s inclusion in the world’s largest free trade pact amid international opposition to the military takeover that has sparked violence and democratic setbacks in the Southeast Asian nation has expanded into trade and diplomacy. punishments.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr told his Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) counterparts at a Thursday meeting in Cambodia that the Philippines would not accept “the instrument of ratification” of Myanmar’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), referring to the key document binding a country to the 15-nation Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which entered into force on January 1.
In Locsin’s speech released to reporters in Manila yesterday, he cited no reason for the Philippines’ decision and added that he was prepared to back down if that position stood in the way of a collective position by the 10-nation regional bloc. , which includes Myanmar. .
It is not immediately clear whether other member countries of RCEP, which includes the 10 ASEAN member states, as well as China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, would snub also the inclusion of Myanmar and would end up excluding it from the massive trading bloc.
Two Asian diplomats told The Associated Press this week that New Zealand had notified other RCEP countries that it would not recognize Myanmar’s papers allowing it to join the trading bloc because it opposes to his military-led government.
New Zealand was among the Western countries that quickly opposed the takeover, suspending all high-level military and political contact with Myanmar and calling on army chiefs to immediately release all political leaders and restore civil rule. He also imposed a travel ban on Myanmar generals.
Locsin was one of the region’s most vocal in calling for dialogue to resolve the year-long crisis in Myanmar, welcoming a plan for an ASEAN special envoy to visit the country in crisis next month to start a discussion between the adversaries groups.
“The dialogue must include everyone and not just a select few, more specifically it must include Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint,” Locsin told his fellow ministers. “It should be a real dialogue and not a ventriloquist act.”
The measures taken by New Zealand and the Philippines underscore the growing fallout of the Myanmar crisis on the economic and diplomatic spheres.