ASEAN Summit begins Reg’l leaders, dialogue partners gather in PH

BY NORMAN D. CORDON

Monday, November 13, 2017

Special Correspondent for 2017 ASEAN Summit

MANILA – The Philippines’ hosting of the highest policy-making body of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) officially begins today, with President Rodrigo Duterte leading the opening ceremony at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The Summit will cover political, security, economic, and sociocultural matters that ASEAN would like to address to bring about inclusive, sustainable and equitable development for everyone in the ASEAN Community.

After their plenary, the 10 ASEAN leaders will have a series of meetings spread over two days with heads of state/government of its dialogue partners and engage the United Nations secretary-general.

Commemorative summits will also be held during the two-day Summit, including for partnerships with the United States, Canada and the European Union.

An anticipated highlight of the Summit is a meeting of ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from countries participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations.

During this meet, the leaders will take up issues such as the rise of radicalization and violent extremism, global and regional economic outlook, economic integration, women empowerment, migrant workers, malnutrition, climate change, youth, and poverty.

ASEAN leaders are expected to adopt a number of declarations and statements that will provide impetus for national and regional actions meant to address various issues.

They are also scheduled to meet with the region’s industry leaders representing the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and with the East Asia business community.

ASEAN was established in Bangkok, Thailand on Aug. 8, 1967 when the five founding members – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – signed the ASEAN Declaration.

Since then ASEAN has expanded its membership with the inclusion of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The ten member states established the ASEAN Community in December 2015 with the goal of bringing more opportunities and benefits to the region.

The 31st ASEAN Summit is the second Summit that Duterte hosts during Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship this year. The first Summit in April was attended by ASEAN leaders while the second Summit will be graced by leaders of ASEAN’s dialogue partners.

During the Summit, leaders are expected to discuss trade and investment facilitation, innovation, addressing cybercrime, conquering radicalization, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, connectivity, cooperation against trafficking in persons, protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, persons with disability and other vulnerable groups, and strengthening the ASEAN Community, Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said.

Bolivar said the leaders are also expected to issue, sign, adopt, or take note of several outcome documents, including the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, a centerpiece of the Philippine chairmanship.

This migrant protection document is a “major accomplishment” for the Philippine chairmanship. The initiative started 10 years ago and was later called the Cebu Declaration, said Bolivar./PN