Asean is working closely with its partners to support the open, rules-based worldwide order and multilateral system, and has recently concluded recommendations for a general review of the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Nov 14).
The ASEAN leaders meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was scheduled for 9:30 a.m., where Duterte was present and ready to engage with leaders on issues concerning the South China Sea.
It's unclear if the region's reliance on trade will lead ASEAN to push ahead this week with a free trade pact that would commit member countries to opening their markets further. "China and ASEAN countries will benefit in that process, it will also be conducive to free trade and go on to serve the interests of other parties".
The agreement was signed after nine rounds of negotiations involving representatives of 10 ASEAN member countries.
Vice President Pence was due to meet with Suu Kyi on Wednesday, as well as with leaders of Vietnam, India and Indonesia.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said countries in the region were able to manage territorial disputes as they were working towards a code of conduct to govern activity in the South China Sea.
Intergovernmental cooperation projects between China and Singapore, such as the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-City, have yielded fruitful results.
"China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the Singaporean side, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, and continuously bring bilateral ties to higher levels", Li said.
"Everything's been excellent between China and the rest of ASEAN except for the fact that there's friction between the Western nations and China", Duterte told reporters as he headed into meetings.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), covering half the world's population and including Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries such as the Philippines, has been billed as an antidote to President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda that has seen tariffs imposed on nearly half of all Chinese imports to the United States - and retaliatory levies by Beijing.
Lee said talks on the RCEP have seen some major breakthroughs this year and have entered the final stage.
Modi will reach Singapore on Wednesday morning for his 36-hour visit to the city-state and his first engagement after arrival will be to deliver the keynote address at the Singapore Fintech Summit.
The President, however, was present for the ASEAN-China summit.
"For example, on the issue of the South China Sea in the past years with the DOC in implementation, overall peace and stability in the South China Sea have been maintained and now the situation is now moving toward great stability", Li said.
"ASEAN and China have seen steady progress in the initial phase of the COC negotiations since the announcement of a Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, and looked forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019,"according to the ASEAN-China common statement read by President Duterte".