ASEAN 2017 hosting seen to put PHL in ASEAN, global economic maps

DAVAO CITY -- As the government officially launches the Philippines' chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 here on Sunday, its chairmanship can put the country on the ASEAN and global economic maps, said the country's chief economist.

President Rodrigo Duterte will lead the launching of the Philippines' chairmanship of ASEAN here in Davao City with the theme of "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World".

"ASEAN is looked up as an important regional economic grouping," said National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ernesto Pernia in an earlier interview.

Pernia said the Philippines would push for more openness across countries and national borders within the ASEAN; as well as freer movement of labor and capital, investments and academic exchange opportunities for students and professors.

Ma. Hellen De La Vega, Asst. Secretary of the Office of ASEAN Affairs-Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said the country's hosting of the ASEAN summit should be looked "in a very positive note."

"We are the highest performing economy now in ASEAN. Other international economic bodies are very positive about the economy of the Philippines," she said in an interview here.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have grown 6.9 percent to 7 percent in 2016. It accelerated 7 percent in the first three quarters.

De La Vega noted that the economy posted higher growth despite uncertainties happening in other parts of the world.

"I think we should not be distracted, we should keep on focusing on what is important and that is opening up our economies," she added.

De La Vega also believes that the ASEAN chairmanship can support more inclusive and higher economic growth.

She cited Philippine thematic priorities for ASEAN which include a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN; peace and stability in the region; maritime security and cooperation; inclusive, innovation-led growth; ASEAN's resiliency; and ASEAN: a model of regionalism, a global player.

"That is the ultimately goal really: the reduction of poverty. (This can be achieved through) support for the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) , ending all forms of malnutrition. By doing that, you are making productive citizens because they are healthier," added De La Vega. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency