The Philippines lauded on Monday what it described as the "cooperative attitude" of China in the proposed plan to establish a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Chinese delegation led by the minister and vice minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce "have shown a strong cooperative attitude (and strong support to the ongoing (RCEP) process."
Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen attended the fifth RCEP ministerial meeting on Sunday.
"They're very much bullish also in terms of building further trade and investment cooperation with ASEAN. They're of course wanting to have a - shall we say - more liberal operating structure when it comes to trade and investment with ASEAN," Lopez said.
He also said the Chinese delegates "are willing to cooperate as to what would be a doable arrangement."
"But at the same time we observe that their support when it comes to the need to have more realistic objectives, and they're actually one of those who supported the view of ASEAN to somehow more realistic objectives when it comes to RCEP," Lopez said.
The Philippines, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, hopes to achieve a "substantial conclusion" of RCEP this year.
RCEP ministers were meeting in Manila as part of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting that ended on Monday.
RCEP is a 16-nation proposed free trade pact eyed to further strengthen ASEAN markets - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and its major trading partners China, South Korea, Australia, India, Japan, and New Zealand.
The proposed regional trade pact will expand the ASEAN market from 600 million people to 3.5 billion.
Launched in November 2012, RCEP targeted to cover trade-in goods and services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights, competition policy, and dispute settlement, among others. It is seen as a good platform for the region to negotiate with other regional blocs.