“The trade war between the United States and China is creating uncertainty. It is taking a toll on global growth. And it could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration,” Duterte said during his intervention at the plenary session on Saturday.
Simeon Celi Jr/Presidential Photo
Duterte seeks Asean cooperation amid US-China trade war
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

BANGKOK — President Duterte is seeking greater cooperation among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to allay the uncertainties caused by the trade war between the United States and China during the plenary session of the 34th ASEAN summit here over the weekend.

“The trade war between the United States and China is creating uncertainty. It is taking a toll on global growth. And it could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration,” Duterte said during his intervention at the plenary session on Saturday.

“The US and China must both take the high road and resolve their differences before the situation spirals out of control. And we in the ASEAN must strengthen our support for a rules-based and open multilateral trading system,” he added.

Aside from the US-China trade war, the President discussed with regional leaders the problem of terrorism, scourge of illegal drugs, climate change and economic growth.

The Chief Executive pledged the Philippines’ support for the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), a regional initiative that connects and integrates National Single Window (NSW) of ASEAN member states.

The ASW aims to expedite cargo clearance and promote ASEAN economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among ASEAN member states.

“We must reject the zero-sum approach to international economic relations. In pursuit of growth, we should be partners, not competitors. The Philippines, therefore, supports the ASEAN Single Window – a concrete initiative toward a seamless cross-border trade,” he said.

ASEAN member states had previously agreed to establish an ASW to connect 10 NSWs.

Each NSW will expedite border clearance of goods by providing traders a single point for submitting clearance documentation and data. The ASW will provide a secure and efficient mechanism for communication among the 10 NSWs that reduces the cost of doing business for ASEAN traders, encourages trade and investment in and with ASEAN and results in greater transparency, efficiency and savings in government operations.

At start of the plenary session, Duterte also congratulated Thai  King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, and Queen Suthida, on his coronation, and Prime Minister  Prayut Chan-o-cha for his election.

Duterte extended his congratulations to Indonesian  President Joko  Widodo on his reelection.  The President had a bilateral meeting with Widodo last Saturday evening on the sidelines of the summit.

Duterte said Thailand’s theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” resonates with all of the member states as it articulates a shared vision for a people-centered and people-oriented ASEAN community.

“We are encouraged by progress in the work of various ASEAN sectoral bodies and organs, as reported by the ASEAN secretary general,” he said.

“Our cooperation has brought greater peace and stability and progress to our peoples for decades. The ASEAN has taken its rightful place – the driver’s seat – in key regional mechanisms for security, stability and sustainable development,” he added.

With the Philippines also sharing the same security problem on the advent of extremist terrorism, Duterte dwelt on the need to address the problems in the region while he also batted for the need to battle illegal drugs at all fronts.

“Terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes continue to threaten our security. They divide our communities, destroy families, and undermine the growth we fought hard to achieve,” he said.

Duterte, who has been heavily criticized for his drug war, noted how the scourge of  illegal drug abuse affects every country.

“Illegal drugs, in particular, corrode the very fabric of our societies. We must redouble our collective efforts to counter these threats effectively and with finality,” he said.

Duterte also underscored the need to address natural disasters, which he described as occurring more frequently and at an intensity unseen before – be it typhoon, drought, earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption.

“The cost is horrendous, especially for us in Southeast Asia: displacement, destruction, and death. Real lives hang in the balance,” he said.

“We must hold countries most responsible for climate change to account, to answer. We must adapt and build our resilience by advancing initiatives that care for the people and the environment,” he added. 

Inclusive growth, development

 Duterte committed the Philippines’ support for the establishment of an ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Council, saying micro, small and medium-scale enterprises or MSMEs are the backbone of ASEAN economies.

“Let us help MSMEs harness digital technology so they can play a bigger role in the global value chain. We need to recognize that MSMEs can be powerful engines of growth and job creation in our region,” he said.

The President also underscored how cutting-edge (technological) breakthroughs are changing societies in ways nations have yet to fully understand.

“They empower people. But they also widen existing divisions,” he said.

Duterte urged everyone to maximize the benefits of the unfolding Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate growth, alleviate poverty and bridge socio-economic gaps.

“To achieve our vision of a well-integrated ASEAN, we must build more (resilient) infrastructure, sustainable cities and innovative systems,” he said.

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