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The Future of Asia 2012

ASEAN Secretary-General Says CEP, TPP Can Coexist

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia is a top priority but does not exclude joining the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of South East Asian Nations, at an international forum here Thursday.

Speaking at the annual Future of Asia conference, Surin said, "Having established the ASEAN+3 FTAs ... our proposal is for a regional agreement that will allow all of East Asia to move in one direction under a Comprehensive Economic Partnership."

He stressed his belief that "ASEAN can provide the centrality and leadership needed for East Asia to move forward in the future."

Referring to the TPP initiative, Surin said he thinks the negotiations are "still in the early stage, and most of the countries are still small." However, he "welcomes competition" because "different ideas and initiatives are good."

Surin also said: "The TPP and CEP might work to reinforce each other and not be mutually exclusive. But we have to be careful, because there are so many challenges that could effect regional stability in East Asia."

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.