PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. left the Philippines on Wednesday to attend a major conference of Asia-Pacific leaders in Thailand, vowing to promote seamless passage for Filipino seafarers and push for economic inclusion of small businesses and marginalized sectors.
The Philippine leader also said he would entice investors from Thailand, which is expected to stick to its gradual approach to monetary policy tightening amid rising inflation across the world.
“We will be engaging with the leaders of economies of the Asia-Pacific region to agree on how we can achieve food and energy [security], safe and seamless cross-border passage of our seamen and our other Filipino workers,” Mr. Marcos said in a pre-departure speech.
This will be his first attendance in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit — to be held on Nov. 16 to 19 — since he became president in July.
Mr. Marcos said he would push for the “economic inclusion” of small businesses as well as women, indigenous people, and “other segments (in society) whose economic potential remain to be unlocked”.
He added that he would also touch on digitalization and connectivity, sustainable development, and the “existential problem that we all face, the climate change crisis”.
Members of APEC, which was established in 1989, make up more than 60% of global economic output.
Mr. Marcos said he will meet with Thai business leaders on the APEC sidelines to “invite investments and seek business opportunities” and promote Philippine exports.
In 2021, the Philippine’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $394.1 billion, while Thailand’s reached $506 billion, according to website WorldData.
Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 3.3% this year, according to a Reuters report, citing the country’s central bank. Its share of global gross domestic product was 1.1% in 2021.
Mr. Marcos said he would also participate in panel discussions on “The Global Economy and the Future of APEC” with other APEC leaders “at the annual gathering of top CEOs (chief executive officers) from across the region”.
“There will be bilateral meetings which at present we are still finalizing with other economic leaders, both private and heads of state, to discuss the strengthening of diplomatic relations and economic cooperation.”
Mr. Marcos, who attended the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits last week, earlier said he considers ASEAN and APEC “as vital platforms in advancing the country’s interests and positions before world leaders”.
Mr. Marcos said in his pre-departure speech that he hopes “to build upon the discussions that we had during the ASEAN Summit” since “there are many areas of consensus between our countries in the Asia Pacific, Indo-Pacific region”.
During the ASEAN summits, the Philippine leader had raised the need to finalize a code of conduct in the South China Sea. Climate change was also among the issues he raised, rallying fellow Southeast Asian leaders to come up with a “collective action”. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza