PORT MORESBY – President Rodrigo Duterte stressed that sovereignty should be respected as members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) pushed for deeper regional economic integration, Trade secretary Ramon Lopez said Sunday.
The annual APEC gathering was overshadowed by speeches on Saturday from Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Mike Pence which tackled Beijing’s offer of loans to poorer countries for construction and development projects.
Pence alleged that the loans come with strings attached and build up “staggering debt” for poorer countries. Xi however insisted the initiative was not a “trap” and there was no “hidden agenda.”
Duterte, during the APEC leaders’ meeting with the Business Advisory Council, announced that the Philippines will continue to espouse its principle of “being a friend to all and enemy to no one,” Lopez told ABS-CBN News.
“As we enhance trade relations with other countries, it should be a win-win, free and fair trade, keeping the respect for sovereignty and our principles of being ‘a friend to all and enemy to no one,’” he said of Duterte’s message.
Manila will sign a memorandum of understanding with China on its Belt and Road Initiative when Xi visits the Philippines this month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said.
During Saturday’s meeting, Duterte also called for a globalization that is inclusive and would benefit even the micro, small and medium enterprises, Lopez said.
The President, he added, also underscored the need to empower people with better technologies to increase productivity.
Duterte’s statements “received good feedback from other participants,” Lopez said. (With a report from ABS-CBN News/PN)