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Marcos: ASEAN poised to grow on mutual trade

ASEAN PRESENCE. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (left) joins hands with the other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for their traditional pose at the start of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. PCO Photo

Jakarta — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday hailed the economic growth of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations, citing the steady rise of intra-ASEAN trade and foreign direct investment inflows.

“With a projected growth rate of 4.9 percent next year and a steady rise in intra-ASEAN trade and foreign direct investment inflows, ASEAN is poised to improve its macroeconomic fundamentals in the face of a prolonged geopolitical and socio-economic challenge that impacts our region and the world,” the President said during a speech at the 43rd ASEAN Summit Plenary.

The President vowed to further heighten the Philippines’ commitment to maintaining ASEAN as a competitive and integrated regional economy.

He said that to build stronger mutual trade between the ASEAN members, a rules-based multilateral trading system must be open, free, and fair.

Mr. Marcos also asked for a more inclusive economic system, which includes the integration of digital transformation, and increased participation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups in digital and creative businesses.

“Creativity and innovation are the way to the future. Let us strengthen collaboration and align our policies, including establishing a regional scope of the creative economy, closing financing gaps, and managing digital readiness capacities,” the President said.

At the same time, the President said the ongoing impact of climate change is the biggest hurdle to the progress of ASEAN.

He said ASEAN must pressure developed countries to hasten the implementation of their commitments to adapting to climate change at the upcoming 2023 UN Climate Change Conference.

As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the Philippines would continue to prioritize international cooperation that would make ASEAN climate-smart and disaster-ready, through the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, he said.

Marcos called on his fellow leaders to further boost “ASEAN Centrality” and peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region to fortify the foundations of the bloc’s community-building and lead it towards a new chapter.

The President hailed Indonesian President and current ASEAN chairman Joko Widodo for his leadership and the warm hospitality shown to visiting world leaders.

He also declared that the Philippines was ready to host the 2026 Summit. Laos will hold the 2024 ASEAN Summit, followed by Malaysia in 2025.

The President reiterated the country’s support for Timor Leste’s full membership in the ASEAN.

Timor Leste, also known as East Timor, gained its independence from Indonesia on May 20, 2002. Before Indonesia took over, East Timor was a colony of Portugal for centuries until November 1975.

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs said more than 90 documents are targeted to be issued, adopted, or noted during the summit.

These include:

* ASEAN leaders’ declaration on strengthening food security and nutrition in response to crisis;

* individual joint statements on strengthening cooperation on food security between ASEAN, Australia, Canada, and India;

* ASEAN guidelines on the protection of migrant workers and family members in crisis situations;

* ASEAN leaders’ statement on the development of the digital economy framework agreement; and

* ASEAN joint statement on climate change to the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The 43rd ASEAN Summit will conclude on Sept. 7 with a handover ceremony of the ASEAN chairmanship from Indonesia to Laos.

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