28 September 2021 – Philippine Ambassador to Singapore H.E. Joseph del Mar Yap joined the panel discussion at the 7th RHT China-ASEAN Business Alliance (CABA) ASEAN Summit 2021 with the theme “ASEAN in the new normal: Advancing towards a more sustainable and resilient future,” which was live-streamed on 17 September 2021.
Aside from Ambassador Yap, also invited to the panel were New Zealand High Commissioner in Singapore, H.E. Joanne Deidre Tyndall, and Malaysian High Commissioner in Singapore H.E. Dato’ Dr. Azfar Mohamad Mustafar. The event was moderated by Azman Jaafar, Managing Partner of RHTLaw Asia.
The RHT CABA ASEAN Summit is an annual event in Singapore “to discuss current affairs that impact enterprises and can seize regional opportunities.” The Summit seeks to “capitalise on the ASEAN platform for business growth and the potential to propel one’s business into the future regional and global arena.”
Ambassador Yap and the two other diplomats had a fruitful discussion on the role of digital economy and e-commerce for a resilient and sustainable recovery, the impact of RCEP on the ASEAN region and its key partners, the ASEAN development post-pandemic outlook, and the implications of China’s 14th 5-year plan and US-China geopolitical rivalry on ASEAN.
Ambassador Yap stated that RCEP will provide enhanced market access for Philippine goods. “RCEP countries currently account for 50% of Philippine exports. NEDA estimates that RCEP will add USD 47 to 60 billion to the country’s exports by 2025.” In addition, he said that the Philippines’ top exports to China are expected to grow under China’s 14th 5-year plan.
In addressing the issue of future resilience and sustainability, High Commissioner Tyndall, who was New Zealand’s previous climate change ambassador, discussed New Zealand and its achievement as the first country in the world to mandate climate-related disclosures as part of its holistic approach to economic development. The mandate is part of New Zealand’s overall plan to meet its target of net-zero carbon emission by 2050.
High Commissioner Azfar informed the participants that the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, which is a recently passed five-year development plan of Malaysia, will make the Malaysian economy more resilient and more sustainable in the long term.
RHT CABA ASEAN Summit gathers ASEAN business leaders and industry professionals from various economic sectors to discuss current affairs and pressing issues within the region. Past summits have attracted the attendance of the diplomatic community and ministerial-level government representatives.
 The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. As of 2020, the 15 member countries accounted for about 30% of the global population (2.2 billion people) and nearly a third of global GDP (USD 26T), easily among the largest trading blocs in the world. The RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam.