Duterte at APEC Summit

Published November 16, 2018, 3:48 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling

PORT MORESBY – Fresh from his trip to Singapore, President Duterteis embarking on a working visit to Papua New Guinea to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that aims to boost regional economic integration and promote inclusive growth amid the digital economy.

PRRD IN PNG – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (right) is welcomed at the Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where he arrives November 16, to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week. (Malacañang Photo)
PRRD IN PNG – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (right) is welcomed at the Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where he arrives November 16, to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week. (Malacañang Photo)

Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea BienvenidoTejano said President Duterte is expected to push for the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises, particularly helping these small entrepreneurs benefit from the opportunities offered by digital trade.

“The President is very passionate about the inclusive growth of even the micro, medium, small enterprises. This digital technology will really enhance the access for these small businesses,”the Philippine ambassador said.

“This is a now a chance for us and the small businesses to be able to link with some businesses outside, beyond their reach,” he said.

The President, accompanied by several Cabinet members, arrived Friday morning in Port Moresby for the APEC Summit set for November 17 and 18. Among those who welcomed the President were Papua New Guinea Chief of the Diplomatic Protocol Ambassador MoreaVeratau, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Treasury Charles Abel, Foreign Minister RimbinkPato, APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, and Papua New Guinea Ambassador to the Philippines Nawi Bokuik.

Dutertehad earlier attended the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Singapore.

This year’s APEC Summit in the South Pacific island nation carries the theme,“Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future.” The summit is expected to focus on enhancing trade among member-economies to ensure sustainable growth, job creation, and better quality of life for people in the region.

“This is an opportunity for our President to join with the 20 other leaders to touch base and also perhaps join other leaders in firming their commitment in their international rules-based regime for trade and investments,”Tejano said.

The 21 Pacific Rim leaders, including the Philippine leader, are expected to open the annual summit on Saturday to address regional trade issues and chart the future of cooperation among the APEC economies.

The APEC member-economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America, and Vietnam.

The APEC member economies account for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP.

Before attending the APEC summit, the President is expected to meet with the Filipino community in Papua New Guinea on Friday night.

Tejano said the Filipinos in Papua New Guinea were excited to see and talk to the President during his visit here this week. More than 40,000 Filipinos are working and living in Papua New Guinea amid enhanced relations between the two countries.

“For them, the President has come and visited this country. For them, it’s already a big comfort, a big assurance that the relationship is growing stronger and stronger,” the ambassador said.

“The coming of the President is a strength and inspiration to all of us. As their leader here, I can feel it. The atmosphere is very, very vibrant for our Filipino people to welcome the President,” he added.

Excited to meet Duterte

Tejano said it is not only the Filipino community that looks forward to Duterte’s historic visit but Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and other government leaders as well.

“Since their independence until now, there has never been a leader of the Philippines that has visited this country. You know, the visit of the President here not only to attend APEC but it is so important for the relationship of the two countries,”Tejano said in a media interview.

“In fact, the excitement here does not only involve the Filipino community, even the Prime Minister himself. Every now and then when we meet, he would always ask me, ‘So make sure that President Duterte will come.’ I said, ‘He made a commitment, he always fulfills his commitment.’ So the country is excited,” the ambassador added.

Last May, O’Neill visited the Philippines and held bilateral talks with Duterte to revitalize bilateral relations. The two leaders agreed to boost bilateral cooperation on agriculture, aquaculture, and agri-business development in a bid to help ensure food security.

Tejano said apart from the Prime Minister, other Papua New Guinea government officials have expressed enthusiasm in meeting the visiting Philippine leader. He noted that Port Moresby governor PowesParkop has even described Duterte as his idol.

“I have met a lot of Cabinet members and several governors. In fact the city governor of Port Moresby, we just had a meeting the other day and he was saying, please give me a chance to shake hands with your President. I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘He’s my idol,’” he added.