President Duterte said Asia and Europe must work together for inclusive socioeconomic recovery based on the principles of justice, fairness, and equality to address the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duterte made the statement during the Second Plenary Session of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Malacañang on November 26.
In his message, President Duterte raised the disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable countries, noting that it has reversed the gains in economic growth and poverty reduction while the recovery from it seemed unequal.
“COVID-19 has affected us all, but the recovery is unequal. This cannot be attributed only to lapses in domestic policy, but also to structural constraints in the global economy,” he said.
“We need more multilateral action to address these constraints. Our ultimate goal is to speed up more economic exchanges and people mobility in the new normal,” he added.
With this, President Duterte made a renewed call for the resumption of the negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).
According to the President, robust economic relations between the Philippines and the EU will lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty. He asked the regional bloc to give Filipinos “a chance at a life of dignity.”
He likewise urged ASEM partners to renew their support for an open and fair trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Vaccines and the economy
President Duterte likewise reiterated that it was crucial to resume safe cross-border travel to re-energize economies.
He suggested nations adopt a scientific, non-discriminatory, and World Health Organization (WHO)-compliant framework on vaccine certificate recognition.
Duterte renewed his call for equal vaccine access and stressed that geopolitics should not play a role in vaccine availability and supply.
He also pointed out that ASEM stakeholders must also look beyond recovery and must focus on preparedness and resiliency.
The 13th ASEM Summit adopted three outcome documents that included the ASEM13 Chair’s Statement, Phnom Penh Statement on the Post-COVID-19 Socio-Economic Recovery, and Way Forward on ASEM Connectivity.
Established in 1996, ASEM is an informal platform for political dialogue and cooperation, bringing together 53 partners. It consists of 51 partner countries and two organizational partners, the EU and the ASEAN.