MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday attended a virtual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, seeking to boost the Philippines' pandemic-battered economy.
The APEC forum, hosted this year by Malaysia but held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries, accounting for about 60 percent of global GDP.
Duterte will "advance the Philippines’ views on APEC’s post-2020 vision and current challenges to the multilateral trading system," his office said in a statement.
"We're looking at an economic bounce back," said Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje.
"Importante na ang mga relasyon natin sa ibang bansa, particularly with APEC economies, ay mapaigting natin ang relasyon sa kanila kaya dadalo si Pangulo," he said in an interview on state-run PTV-4.
(It is important that our relations with other countries, particularly with APEC economies, are strengthened so the President will attend the summit.)
Duterte will also push for the "free flow" of goods and supplies, especially the future COVID-19 vaccine and medical supplies, in the region, Borje said.
Climate change is "integrated in the discussion," he said. Duterte earlier said developed countries must act on climate change, which he linked to a recent storm that wreaked havoc in Luzon.
Beijing has become the main driving force behind the organization after the United States began withdrawing from multilateral bodies during US President Donald Trump's term. He just lost his reelection this month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at the summit on Thursday, hailing China as the pivot point for global free trade, and vowing to keep its "super-sized" economy open for business as the world battles the pandemic.
Buoyed by the signing of the world's largest trade pact over the weekend, Xi said the Asia-Pacific is the "forerunner driving global growth" in a world hit by "multiple challenges."
He rejected any possibility of the "decoupling" of China's economy, in his only nod to the hostile trade policy of Trump's administration, which has battered China with tariffs and tech restrictions.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US, is viewed as a major coup for China and further evidence that Beijing is setting the agenda for global commerce as Washington retreats.
-- With a report from Agence-France Presse