Aquino calls for more ‘inclusive’ global partnerships
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday called on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies to adopt the “inclusive growth” tack and avoid exclusivity, which could defeat the purpose of global partnerships.
“If the whole idea is to broaden trade, making it exclusive actually defeats the whole purpose of why you enter into all of these agreements. Now, I don’t think we can look for any economist or any businessman who states as a goal limiting the potentials for whatever sector he works in,” the President said while fielding questions from chief executive officers (CEO) of various companies in member-countries of APEC.
“So, I guess, everybody is cognizant of this. Those who accept the reality that growth is both domestic but more proportionately international in nature will welcome the interaction among all these various trade agreements and associations,” said Aquino, the keynote speaker at the APEC 2015: CEO Summit held in Makati City with the theme “APEC’s Inclusive Growth Imperative.”
In his keynote address, he encouraged APEC businessmen to join the Philippines in its pursuit of inclusive growth where “no one is left behind.”
The President cited a number of projects that are aimed toward this goal, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer Program that benefits more than 4 million families.
“I share our story with you today because I believe we can do this on a regional scale; I believe if we work with each other’s economies, and if we harness the strengths of all our peoples, we can give rise not only to inclusive national economies, but to an Asia-Pacific where our citizens truly know what we talk about when we say ‘growth’,” he pointed out.
The idea, he admitted, “will neither be easy nor quick” but he said all must be optimistic about it. World leaders, he added, must work together to achieve an “inclusive world.”
“The more that people gain the first freedom–which is freedom from hunger–we set an environment that nurtures the growth of all the other freedoms. The leaders of our economies have gathered here under the banner of building inclusive economies, and by so doing building an inclusive world,” Aquino said.
“And I believe that, if we can fully engage the private sector in this mission, offering the many benefits brought about by inclusivity, we can achieve this sooner rather than later.
Together, I am confident we can author the next great chapter in the history of human civilization; as a connected, synergized Asia-Pacific, we can bring about the advent of a region–and a world–where no one is left behind,” he added.
In the forum that followed, Aquino bewailed the fact that the Philippines has not yet been invited to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries on a variety of matters of economic policy. The agreement was reached last month after seven years of negotiations.
The agreement’s goal is to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”
“But the whole point, I think, is that our theme is inclusivity. Every country would want to be part of all of these agreements. We were not invited to TPP to begin with but we are expecting to be invited when they do open up membership,” said the President.
He said he expects so many different agreements on a wide variety of concerns. Besides TPP, there are two other major standing agreements in the region–the Regional Economic Cooperation Platform and the Free Trade Zone for Asia Pacific – which could eventually fragment or weaken APEC.
“Well, that [fragmentation]might be a possibility if the people responsible allow it to happen,” Aquino said.
“I was trained as a classical economist that the bigger the market, the more the opportunities, the greater the possibilities. So it doesn’t behoove any country or any economy to have, to build up all of these barriers toward trade. So the direct outputs here are we’ve had so many agreements of increased bilateral trade relations,” the President explained.
The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, the president of Colombia and the former vice president of Taiwan arrived on Monday for the APEC summit.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in the afternoon. A Colombian military aircraft carrying Santos landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 at 4:25 p.m. He was earlier expected to arrive around 9 a.m. Monday, but his flight was delayed.
Colombia has been invited as a guest country at the high-level economic forum and will attend the Pacific Alliance dialogue together with the Latin American APEC members Chile, Peru and Mexico.
The Colombian president was welcomed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Jesus Domingo, Philippine Ambassador to Colombia Tito Saul Penilla, Jorge Araneta and Honorary Consul of Colombia Stella Marquez, among others.
Aside from Santos, two high-profile leaders also arrived on Monday — Chinese Taipei’s former Vice President Vincent Siew at NAIA Terminal 1, and Prime Minister O’Neil’s private aircraft landed at Villamor Air Base around 4:46 p.m.
O’Neill was welcomed by Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and other officials.
O’Neill assumed the post of Prime Minister in 2012 and also briefly served as Minister of Finance prior to becoming head of government.