On Thursday, Nov. 16, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. called for stronger economic and technical cooperation to ensure that green energy solutions are accessible and affordable to all. | Photo via PCO
No matter what some people may think, there is no doubt presidential trips are extremely important, considering we live in an ever-evolving global village where barriers to economic growth and development are factors in life. Some trips directly play a significant role in people’s lives, and obviously, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco is one of many.
With 21 member economies, APEC has become an important international body where leaders can tackle free trade and investment concerns to advance shared goals and interests through economic and technical cooperation.
APEC members are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. They account for almost 40 percent of the global population (approximately 3 billion people), representing 62 percent of world GDP and 48 percent of world trade in 2021. Real GDP increased from $19 trillion in 1989 to $58.2 trillion in 2021.
Obviously, the regional forum is important for us since 11 of the Philippines’ top trading partners are members, accounting for about 85 percent of our total imports and exports worldwide.
In his keynote address during the CEO Summit last Thursday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. pointed out, “As member economies of APEC, we are accountable to our people and future generations to deliver sustained growth and prosperity.”
But while signs “point to darker clouds, this opportunity to collaborate once more is light in the economic horizon in our efforts to pre-empt a prolonged downturn and its very negative consequences,” he said, recognizing that the “resolve to gather” during the APEC Summit is already a testament to their “commitment to improve the lives of the people” in the region.
“We must leverage APEC’s core value propositions as the premier regional forum in the Asia Pacific, incubator of innovative ideas, pathfinder for collaborative solutions to emerging trade issues, and platform for forward-looking and responsive economic and trade policies,” the president said, emphasizing that economies must develop in a manner that is “resilient, sustainable, and mitigates negative externalities.”
During a roundtable discussion, it was refreshing to see the president dynamically engage with CEOs, top business executives, investors, and venture capitalists in the technology sector. He highlighted the Philippines’ readiness to embrace artificial intelligence and invited them to become partners in navigating “the AI future.”
During the economic briefing he conducted with US investors, President Marcos explained in simple but eloquent terms what the country is doing and how he is trying to attract more businesses to the Philippines.
“With a solid reform agenda and unabating growth amid headwinds, the Philippines is ready to take off as a leading investment hub in Asia. A wealth of opportunity awaits you in the Philippines, and we are ready to explore new horizons with your investments in the coming years,” the President highlighted.
“By bringing conversations on the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals, policy roadmap, and investment opportunities closer to the international business community, we aim to reintroduce the Philippines and jumpstart meaningful, concrete, and mutually beneficial partnerships,” the President added.
We were invited to a small private dinner hosted explicitly for the President by VISA executive chairman Alfred Kelly Jr. at his private penthouse apartment located in downtown San Francisco. About a dozen top CEOs in the United States were with us, who engaged in a lively and candid discussion with the president on the economic prospects of the Philippines and our relationship with the US.
Al Kelly, who also happens to be the APEC 2023 Private Sector Host Committee Co-Chair, lauded President Marcos for his leadership and shared the view of many that the President is now considered to be one of the leading, most influential world leaders today. The VISA executive chairman had this kind of projection because of the President’s charisma and eloquence, impressing listeners with the way he explained things that showed he is knowledgeable in geopolitics, global economic concerns, the war in Ukraine, and other matters worldwide that the businessmen wanted to hear his views on. I was incredibly proud to witness our President’s interaction with the CEOs in an area I always knew him to be at his best – a candid discussion on a wide array of topics.
On the sidelines of the APEC Summit, the president had an informal cocktail meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.
Of course, the meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris, who has become a good friend of the president, was extremely important for both our countries. It reaffirmed the strength of their alliance and underscored their shared intent to grow and modernize it. They also discussed “strengthening and broadening economic cooperation bilaterally and through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”
An important breakthrough was the signing of the landmark 123 Agreement, which will pave the way for the US to share nuclear technology and material with the Philippines for peaceful uses. The president sees the agreement as a milestone in ensuring a more energy-secure and green Philippines, expressing optimism that nuclear energy will become part of the country’s energy mix by 2032.
As of this writing, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already reached out to our Department of Foreign Affairs for the much-anticipated meeting between President Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they are expected to discuss the ongoing tension in the West Philippine Sea and find ways to maintain peace and prevent the situation from escalating.