By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
BALI, Indonesia-–President Duterte boasted to his fellow Southeast Asian leaders that the Philippine economy is now on an uphill climb.
Duterte made the statement during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering in Nusa Dua, Bali Thursday afternoon.
In his remarks, Duterte proudly said that the improvement on the Philippine economy only means that the ASEAN is right on track in achieving its sustainable development goals.
“Are we on track towards achieving the objectives we set for ourselves? The indications are encouraging. For the Philippines, our economy is on an upward trajectory of growth,” he said.
“My government continues to work hard to build and strengthen our enabling investment environment,” he added.
According to Duterte, the Philippines is investing in its future by looking to innovation and resiliency in its trade and investment policies.
“We have embarked on an ambitious ‘Build, Build, Build’ program that can support domestic consumption and cushion the impact of decreased external demand,” he said.
“We are unrelenting in our resolve to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable environment that protects the greater common good,” he added.
Dark clouds loom
Despite the good development, Duterte said that ASEAN still has many challenges to face before it becomes truly sustainable.
“There are dark clouds looming on the horizon. They warn us of real challenges that we must face,” he said.
“Escalating trade tensions and protectionism threaten to undermine the gains we have achieved in the economic front,” he added.
Aside from trade tensions, Duterte also said that natural calamities is taking its toll on governments that have limited resources, and citizens with less capabilities to handle disasters.
Duterte also said that terrorism and violent extremism, and transnational crimes such as the illegal drugs trade lure the disadvantaged into destructive alternatives to genuine development.
“We have no other option but to confront these challenges head on. To do so, we must be prepared to invest in ourselves,” he said.
“We must do more. We have to work together,” he added.
A stronger ASEAN
According to Duterte, only a stronger ASEAN can effectively deal with regional and global economic powerhouses. He also said that ASEAN countries should look at each other as economic partners and intensify trade and increase direct investments within the region.
“Only a more stronger ASEAN can take on opportunities that are only available to the many that work together,” he said.
“We need to continue looking outward. We need to deal with an interconnected world economic order,” he added.