FACING THE CHALLENGES TOGETHER. President Rodrigo Duterte links arms with his fellow ASEAN leaders during the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on Saturday evening (June 22, 2019). (Photo from ASEAN secretariat)
BANGKOK – President Rodrigo Duterte said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has indeed been making progress in achieving its goals, such as “greater peace and stability and progress to our peoples for decades.”
However, he said that there are challenges that remained, such as the trade war between the United States and China, which he said has been “creating uncertainty.”
“It is taking a toll on global growth. And it could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration (of ASEAN member countries),” Duterte said in his remarks at the plenary of the 34th ASEAN Summit here on Saturday.
He said while the US and China have to “take the high road and resolve their differences before the situation spirals out of control,” the ASEAN “must strengthen our support for a rules-based and open multilateral trading system.”
“We must reject the zero-sum approach to international economic relations. In pursuit of growth, we should be partners not competitors. The Philippines therefore supports the ASEAN Single Window – a concrete initiative towards a seamless cross-border trade,” he said.
Duterte also said terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes remained major threats to the overall security of the region as these “divide our communities, destroy families, and undermine the growth we fought hard to achieve.”
“Illegal drugs, in particular, corrode the very fabric of our societies. We must redouble our collective efforts to counter these threats effectively and with finality,” he added.
Duterte called on fellow ASEAN leaders to “rise up to the challenges” amid these “sweeping changes.”
“ASEAN must do more to bring positive change to the lives of its [peoples],” he added. (PNA)