Singapore PM: ASEAN "steadfast" in upholding multilateral trading system

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to journalist after bilateral meeting on the International Monitary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, October 11, 2018. Sonny Tumbelaka/Pool via REUTERS

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remains “steadfast” in upholding an open and rules-based multilateral trading system, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

Speaking after an ASEAN leaders’ meeting on the sideline of IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Bali, Lee said the group had reaffirmed its international cooperation. His remarks come amid escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.

“We are redoubling our efforts to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and we hope to achieve substantial conclusion by the end of this year,” said Lee, referring to a trade pact between ASEAN countries and other Asian economies, including China. Singapore is the current chair of ASEAN.

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Ed Davies and Simon Cameron-Moore