Plenary Hall, Sokha Hotel
May 11, 2017
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attended the Opening Plenary: ASEAN at 50 Years Young of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) 2017 at the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel and Residence in Cambodia.
The President is one of four ASEAN leaders to grace the event, together with Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam.
In his remarks, President Duterte said that ASEAN has come a long way since its establishment 50 years ago. He recognized some of the region’s achievements such as the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the ten member countries that makes it the sixth largest economy in the world, having the world’s third largest labor force, increased investor confidence, and the community’s key role in promoting peace and security.
However, he added that much still has to be done for the ASEAN community in trade and investment, connectivity, narrowing the huge development gap, ensuring that the benefits of integration are felt by the majority, among others. He called on the region to promote and further boost MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) for these to become regionally competitive. He also pushed for the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity, saying that this must become a reality and not just remain a vision.
The President cited the importance of investing in the youth because they are the future of ASEAN. He said that they are among the best, intelligent and creative in the world so they must be empowered. Relatively, he stressed the threat of illegal drugs in destroying the future of the next generation, which is why it is so important to realize a drug-free ASEAN community.
President Duterte ended his remarks by saying that the regional bloc must partner together to bring positive change.
The WEF on ASEAN this year bears the theme, ‘Youth, Technology and Growth: Securing ASEAN’s Digital and Demographic Dividends.’
* * *