MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday pushed for inclusive growth in the global trade arena, asking developed economies and big business to share their experience and knowledge to their less developed counterparts.
In a speech before business leaders in Da Nang, Vietnam, Duterte stressed that globalization must not only lead to wealth generation but also equitable wealth distribution.
He said the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as international fora have a key role in ensuring that those who are left behind in the globalized world will get the help they need.
“To unleash the potential of globalization, we must create an inclusive environment where everyone has opportunity for growth,” Duterte said in his keynote address at Session 7 of the APEC CEO Summit titled “Regional Economic Integration-Lessons Learnt from ASEAN”.
“This can be achieved through promotion of competition, complementation, and cooperation among businesses.”
The President also underscored the importance of improved physical and digital connectivity and people-to-people exchanges in achieving inclusivity.
He said big business must reach out to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to address the “pessimism and suspicion of those who do not feel the benefits of free trade and globalization.”
“I, therefore, propose that businesses adopt an inclusive business model that provides opportunities to those at the bottom of the pyramid. As CEOs of big businesses, you are in a unique position to effect change, to the extent that you can involve as many MSMEs in your own supply chains,” Duterte told business leaders.
“You can involve as many MSMEs in your own country and retail operations. This way, you don’t only integrate them in the way you do business, you also unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our peoples.”
DUTERTE: GLOBALIZATION DAMAGED POOR ECONOMIES
While Duterte noted the benefits of free trade in his speech, he also spoke of its ill effects, which he said he would “forcefully” bring up in the upcoming 31st ASEAN Summit chaired by the Philippines.
“Globalization to a certain extent has really damaged poor economies. Globalization, by itself, is the deprivation of some and those that we call ‘left behind,’” he said in response to a question about the growing anti-globalization sentiment around the world.
The President said there has to be some “remedial measures” to address the downsides of globalization, such as “democratic movement” and development of human capital.
He said unless these measures are adopted, “the rich would become richer, and the poor would become poorer.”
The President also noted the role of the ASEAN in sustaining growth and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
He said the Southeast Asian region, the third largest economy in Asia,“has a bright future ahead” due to its young population.
Duterte said APEC, on the other hand, must continue to advocate for a stronger and deeper regional economic integration by facilitating the liberalization of trade and investment.
“The reality is APEC will only be relevant if prosperity is shared by all. Inclusivity requires more developing economies providing greater market access to less developed ones, the same way we encourage businesses to allow MSMEs to be part of their inclusive business model,” he said.
“The essence of true cooperation is that all partners and everyone contributes. Charity is not what less developed economies and small businesses need. What they need are greater market access and opportunity to participate in growth and development,” he added.