MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday told his fellow Southeast Asian leaders that the Philippine economy is on an “upward trajectory of growth.”
In a speech before leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bali, Indonesia, Duterte the indications for the Philippine economy “are encouraging.”
“My Government continues to work hard to build and strengthen our enabling investment environment,” Duterte said.
“Make no mistake: We are serious in practicing good governance. We are committed to address corruption. And we are resolute in securing our nation from criminal elements and terrorist threats.”
Duterte boasted of the Philippine economy’s growth as he asked whether the ASEAN is on track towards achieving its goals under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“For ASEAN, our region has maintained a steady growth path. We are connecting more with the world,” Duterte said in the gathering, which was also attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
Duterte noted that ASEAN’s trade grew almost 15 percent last year, while foreign direct investment grew by almost 12 percent.
While the numbers are encouraging, Duterte said “dark clouds are looming on the horizon,” citing “escalating trade tensions and protectionism” which he said “threaten to undermine the gains we have achieved in the economic front.”
The President also expressed concern over the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crimes, and natural calamities.
“We have no other option but to confront these challenges head on. To do so, we must be prepared to invest in ourselves,” Duterte said.
“The Philippines is investing in its future and looking to innovation and resiliency in our trade and investment policies to further drive growth.”
Duterte also sought closer cooperation among ASEAN economies, as “only a stronger ASEAN will allow us to effectively deal with regional and global economic powerhouses. And only a more stronger ASEAN can take on opportunities that are only available to the many that work together.”
“Other regional blocs have shown how they can effectively change economic dynamics. If we ramp up ASEAN-centered efforts to bring down collective trade and investment barriers, we can achieve – and maybe even surpass – what other regional blocs have done.”