PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will fly back to Cambodia, China and Hong Kong to firm up the Philippines’ economic ties with its partners in the region, the Foreign Affairs Department said Monday.
Duterte will leave on Wednesday for Cambodia and will be participating in the World Economic Forum as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations from May 10 to 11, Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said.
“And as Asean Chair, the President is expected to share his views on the region’s achievements and challenge, and to deliver a message to the youth of Asean,” he said.
Duterte will also be given the opportunity to address international investors regarding his economic plan and the progress he has made in helping to build the Asean Economic Community.
“In particular, at the 30th Asean Summit held a little over a week ago, the leaders welcomed the Asean Economic Community’s thrust to pursue three strategic measures: increasing trade and investment; integrating micro, small and medium enterprises in the digital economy; and developing an innovation-driven economy and to reduce trade transaction costs by 10 percent by 2020,” Bolivar said.
The leaders would likely discuss the target conclusion of the Asean-Hong Kong-China FTA within the year and welcome the launch of formal region-to-region talks on a framework setting out the parameters of a future free trade agreement between Asean and the European Union.
From Cambodia, the President will be flying to Hong Kong where he is scheduled to meet with the Filipino community from May 11 to 13, Bolivar said.
“The Filipino community in Hong Kong has been actively partnering with our Consulate General in ensuring the rights and welfare of our kababayans in Hong Kong are protected and promoted and the community has also been instrumental in promoting enhanced trade relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong and in promoting our country’s investment opportunities and tourist destinations,” Bolivar said.
As of March 2017, there were around 210,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, mainly engaged in the hotel and restaurant industry or working as housemaids.
From Hong Kong, the President proceeds to Beijing to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that will be held from May 14 to 15.
The President will join 27 other heads of state and government, as well as the heads of three international organizations in the forum.
According to Bolivar, the BRF will have three parts: the opening ceremony, a ministerial level dialogue and a leaders’ round-table discussion.
At the ministerial level dialogue, there will be an exchange of views involving participants from government, industries and research institutes.
In an ANC interview, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said it was expected that the trade and investment pledges that Beijing had promised would be finalized.
Last October, Duterte secured more than $24 billion in trade and investment pledges during his first visit to Beijing.
Diokno said his office was in talks with the Chinese Ambassador in Manila to discuss possible financing from the China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank.