By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is reported to be one of the state leaders who will participate in the three-day World Economic Forum (WEF) in Hanoi, Vietnam next month.
According to WEF, Duterte is among the registered heads of state who will attend the meeting from September 11 to 13. So far, eight Southeast Asian countries will be represented by their top leader, including this year’s host Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc.
Duterte is said to be joining Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad whom he met in Kuala Lumpur last month.
Malacañang, however, is yet to confirm Duterte’s attendance to the WEF which will take place a week after the President’s historic three-day visit to Israel also next month.
According to WEF, the meeting will take place under the theme, “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” In all, eight Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries will be represented by their prime minister, president or state counsellor.
WEF said the other leaders who have confirmed their participation are Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong.
The ASEAN leaders will be joined by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka, as well as several senior cabinet ministers from the Republic of Korea, Thailand and other countries.
According to WEF Asia Pacific head and Executive Committee member Justin Wood, they are honored to welcome the record number of heads of state or government who will participate in the meeting.
“We are honored to be welcoming this record delegation of regional government leaders,” he said in a statement.
“The ASEAN region is currently one of the world’s bright spots for economic growth, and their presence shows the commitment they have to ensure this remains the case as the Fourth Industrial Revolution expands in economic scope and impact, and the geopolitical environment around them changes rapidly,” he added.
Duterte also attended the WEF last year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where he had two sessions with top international business leaders and company chief executive officers (CEOs).
In his speech during the Opening Plenary of the WEF last year, Duterte, as then ASEAN chairman, reiterated his stance against illegal drugs and how important it is the purge the drug trade to protect the youth. He also encouraged ASEAN member-states to do its best to curb illegal drugs.
“We cannot turn a blind eye on the scourge of illegal drugs that threatens our youth and the future of our societies. We need to take a committed stand to dismantle and destroy the illegal drugs trade apparatus,” he had said.
He also assured WEF delegates that the Philippines resolves to establish meaningful partnerships for positive change as the country engages the larger world.
Issues to be discussed
More than 800 leaders from business, government, civil society and media will join the heads of state and senior ministers to discuss issues ranging from the region’s geopolitical friction points to entrepreneurship and employment in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Issues to be discussed at the meeting include the Future of Jobs in ASEAN, Asia Economic Outlook, and Accelerating the ASEAN Economic Community, among others.
Topics surrounding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, blockchain, drones, and fintech, will be highlighted. The meeting will also include workplace sessions on topics like Sexual Harassment at Work.
The meeting will also address strategic issues of national and regional significance under three thematic pillars which include entrepreneurship to craft new
approaches to regional and global governance, entrepreneurship to drive economic and business dynamism, and entrepreneurship to shape social inclusion.