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Duterte seeks Philippine growth through global digital economy
“The Philippines wants to be an active participant in the global digital economy. We invite more investments to expand e-commerce and facilitate new modes of interaction and exchange in a safe and secure cyberspace,” Duterte said at the virtual Nikkei Future of Asia Conference on Friday.
Miguel De Guzman, file

Duterte seeks Philippine growth through global digital economy

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is pushing for intensified participation of the Philippines in the global digital economy as part of efforts to rebuild the economy left in tatters by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Philippines wants to be an active participant in the global digital economy. We invite more investments to expand e-commerce and facilitate new modes of interaction and exchange in a safe and secure cyberspace,” Duterte said at the virtual Nikkei Future of Asia Conference on Friday. The conference’s theme is “Shaping the post-COVID era: Asia’s role in the global recovery.”

Amid the pandemic, the World Bank has pointed out the importance of digitalization for economic and social resilience, noting how the lockdowns have restricted mobility and economic activity across the globe.

But Duterte’s pitch for digital globalization remains a challenge as digitalization in the Philippines, based on a World Bank assessment, is “largely constrained by the country’s low high-speed broadband penetration, which lags behind neighboring middle-income countries.”

“As a result, face-to-face interactions and analog practices largely dominate in the Philippines, making social distancing economically costly,” the WB also said in a report published in October 2020.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption and use of digital technologies, the World Bank said “the digital divide in the Philippines is large, with nearly 60 percent of households not having access to internet and unable to reap the benefits of digitalization.”

In his remarks, Duterte also urged other countries in the region to exert unified efforts toward post-COVID economic recovery.

“If Asia is to serve as an engine of global recovery, we all have to act responsibly within a system of norms, commitments and obligations. We have to resolve our disputes peacefully according to international law,” he said.

“We have to work together – not against each other – to achieve (common) ends. This is the only way to realize the promise of a prosperous Asian century,” Duterte added.

“Outside of war, never has one crisis transformed our countries so quickly and deeply. The virus spread with such extraordinary speed and ferocity. It left us reeling. No country – rich or poor – was spared,” he said.

“We can draw many lessons from this global crisis. First, we are only as strong as our weakest link as a country, as a region and as one global community. This is why we need greater solidarity for collective, coordinated and comprehensive responses. Inward-looking policies will lead us nowhere,” he said.

At the Nikkei forum, Duterte also invited Japan to invest more in the Philippines, citing his administration’s effort to strengthen the agricultural sector, public health system and the agro-industrial business corridors.

“We welcome external partners to build more responsive and extensive health delivery networks. Food security is an essential pillar of social stability and order,” he said.

“We made timely interventions in agriculture to promote growth and protect our stakeholders. These include technological innovations [in] agriculture and establishing the Agro-Industrial Business Corridor,” he said.

“More broadly, we aim to accelerate the modernization of our agricultural sector. Japanese investment is most welcome. Very early on in the pandemic, we saw that science and technology would be the enablers of our new normal,” Duterte added.

At the forum, Duterte also batted for the need for strict adherence to the rule of law in the South China Sea.

He stressed that “smaller” countries like the Philippines should not be caught between the crossfire of “great powers” – referring to the United States and China.

ECONOMY PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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