By Genalyn Kabiling
PORT MORESBY — Fresh from his trip to Singapore, President Duterte has embarked on a working visit to Papua New Guinea to attend a summit on boosting regional economic integration and promoting inclusive growth amid the digital economy.
The President, accompanied by several Cabinet members, arrived Friday morning in Port Moresby for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled on November 17 and 18. Duterte earlier attended a regional summit 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 up their commitment in their international rules-based regime for trade and investments,” Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano said in a media interview.
Tejano said the President was expected to push for the development of micro, small and medium-scale 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,” he 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 21 Pacific Rim leaders, including the Philippine leader, are expected to open the annual talks 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 percent 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.