'Like the Galleon Trade': Duterte wants ASEAN to become Asia-Pacific trade hub


Posted at Nov 11 2017 02:03 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the APEC CEO Summit, taking place ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang, Nov. 9, 2017. Hoang Dinh Nam, Pool/Reuters

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday told world leaders that he hopes to see collaboration between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to build an economic hub in the region.

"Inspired by APEC’s model of open regionalism, ASEAN has opened the door wider to the eventual achievement of liberalized trade in Asia and the Pacific," Duterte said in remarks during ASEAN's informal dialogue with APEC leaders in Vietnam.

"Similar to the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that leveraged the central position of the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific region, ASEAN can be a hub for the Asia-Pacific region in relevant areas," he said, referring to the colonial-era trade between then Spanish-occupied Philippines and Mexico that is considered the precursor to modern trade.

Among Duterte's proposed areas of collaboration are digital and maritime connectivity, efficient logistics, disaster preparedness and management, and technology.

"Collaborating with APEC on common areas of interest, ASEAN can potentially play the role of a regional pathfinder for APEC’s initiatives," he said.

Duterte said having more open trade among nations could potentially "reduce poverty" in emerging economies.

Seven ASEAN members- Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam- are part of the APEC, alongside some of the world's largest economies such as the United States, China, Japan, Russia and Canada.

World leaders including US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau converged in Vietnam this week for a series of APEC meetings. 

Most world leaders will proceed to Manila over the weekend to attend the 2-day ASEAN Leaders' Summit and related meetings.