BANGKOK, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Economic ministers from 10 ASEAN Member States, China, Japan and South Korea on Tuesday reaffirmed their strong commitment to upholding the multilateral trading system and reiterated their full support to the endeavor to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The economic ministers met on Tuesday in Bangkok for the 22nd ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Plus Three Consultations.
In a joint media statement, the ministers noted the global outlook in economic and trade performance and the recent moderation of growth.
"While noting that trade continues to expand between ASEAN and the Plus Three countries, the Ministers cautioned against rising trade tensions and its impact on growth," the statement said.
The ministers expressed concern over the rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments that continue to plague the global economy and put the multilateral trading system at risk.
They thus reaffirmed their strong commitment to upholding an open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system.
They also reaffirmed their support for enhanced regional economic integration. The ministers welcomed the progress in the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and reiterated their full support towards the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations in 2019 as mandated by the RCEP leaders, to create a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial agreement.
They underscored the importance of multilateralism and regionalism in contributing to global and regional peace, stability and prosperity.
In the statement, the ministers also noted the progress of activities undertaken through the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Programme 2019-2020, which was adopted by the 21st AEM Plus Three Consultations in 2018.
The ministers were encouraged by the progress made in the areas of connectivity, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises development, and trade facilitation, and reaffirmed the commitment to continuously enhancing trade and economic cooperation within the region.
In this regard, the ministers noted the status of the joint study on "10+3 Cooperation for the Improvement of Supply Chain Connectivity", which was agreed-in-principle by ministers in August 2018 and welcomed by the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Summit in November 2018.
Jurin Laksanawisit, deputy prime minister and minister of commerce of Thailand, who co-chaired the 22nd AEM Plus Three Consultations, said after the meeting that ASEAN plus three is an important part that drive regional economy to move forward.
He said economic ministers of ASEAN and Plus Three Countries agreed that there must be a way to promote trade, investment amidst uncertainty in the global economy and the RCEP consultations should be concluded within this year which would greatly facilitate trade and economy for the 16 RCEP participating countries.
Jurin reiterated that the 16 countries agreed earlier that they would clear all remaining issues in an officials' meeting to be held in Da Nang, Vietnam later this month.
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members and six Asia-Pacific countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.