MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday vowed that under the Philippines' chairmanship, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will continue on the road towards greater progress and prosperity.
In his speech during the launching of the ASEAN 2017 Business and Investment Program (ABIP), the President said the Philippines "will work tirelessly to ensure that ASEAN's economic integration as an object and instrument of policy are fully harnessed."
"The Philippines will work closely with the ASEAN member states and will engage our partners constructively to fully realize the positive changes we desire and aspire for our region," the President said.
Addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps, ASEAN businessmen and other honored guests, Duterte noted that with economic integration, ASEAN benefits from a vibrant flow of the exchange of goods, services, and investments.
He added that "along with both young and skilled labor, ASEAN now stands out for its dramatic diversity and dynamism."
Collectively, the 10-nation ASEAN has a market worth over USD2.5 trillion and the 7th largest global economy.ASEAN member states also represent the third largest market base in the world, next only to China and India.
"ASEAN needs to sustain its momentum towards inclusive growth, ensure that businesses and industries continue to thrive and secure a policy environment that supports meaningful economic change and reform," Duterte said.
The Philippines, he said, will work together with ASEAN member states and partners to ensure that the trajectory of inclusive growth remains always on the upswing.
To do this, the President Duterte said the Philippines will focus on three key areas: pursuit of development initiatives at the grassroots by building the capacities of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); pursuit of innovation-led programs; and the empowerment of women.
"MSMEs form the backbone of the ASEAN's collective economy. The objective is to build the capacities of MSMEs to make them active and competitive players in the national, regional, and global economies," he said.
"I encourage business leaders and the enterprises here to tap the MSMEs and help them integrate into the national, regional value chain," Duterte said.
He added that sub-regional economic cooperation such as the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), which the Philippines also chairs this year, will likewise be crucial in pursuing development initiative at the grassroots.
Meanwhile, full fulfillment will also be sought for the pursuit of innovation-led programs.
"The objective is to use technology, innovation and creativity to spur growth in existing industries and to stimulate new ones, including starts-ups," the President said.
"If we're able to evolve toward becoming smart economies, we have to be intelligent about investments, which includes investment not just in the areas of science and research and development but equally important is our precious human resources," Duterte said.
He said that the Philippines will likewise work tirelessly to advance the empowerment of women so that they can take on the greater economic roles and participate even more broadly in nation and region-building.
"The objective is to achieve the full economic potentials of women and to bridge the gender gap," he said citing studies which show that advancing gender equality will result in USD900 billion additional output to east and west Asian economies in 2025.
"In ASEAN, we will go beyond that and focus on achieving the equity and justice that all our women deserve," Duterte said.
In the meantime, the President urged all business leaders and enterprises to take an active part in the vital programs developed to support initiatives under the Philippines' ASEAN chairmanship.
These programs include ASEAN MSMEs mentors' conference and ASEAN creative business forum and exhibit; the ASEAN women's business conference; the inclusive business summit; the 2nd ASEAN young entrepreneurs' carnival; creative market place slingshot; and the ASEAN MSMEs summit among others.
"Your experience and expertise will help in ensuring that our roadmap to growth remains responsive and relevant. Let us together work ASEAN even stronger, more resilient and ready to do business," President Duterte said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency