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Duterte calls for ‘stronger’ ASEAN amid challenges on trade, terrorism, natural calamities

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 10/12/2018 Parco, Bernadette
President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the ASEAN Leaders' Gathering affirmed support for Indonesians who are still reeling from the destruction brought about by an earthquake and a tsunami. MALACAÑANG PHOTO © MALACAÑANG PHOTO President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the ASEAN Leaders' Gathering affirmed support for Indonesians who are still reeling from the destruction brought about by an earthquake and a tsunami. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called for a “stronger” Southeast Asia in the face of challenges confronting the region such as trade tensions, terrorism and natural calamities.

Duterte issued the call at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia, which is also hosting the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said the region has maintained a steady growth path as shown by the continued expansion in trade and investment.

“But the question remains – can we sustain this growth and make development truly inclusive for everyone in Southeast Asia?” he said during the dialogue that was also attended by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

“There are dark clouds looming on the horizon. They warn us of real challenges that we must face. Escalating trade tensions and protectionism threaten to undermine the gains we have achieved in the economic front,” Duterte added in an apparent reference to the tit-for-tat tariffs in the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

Natural calamities brought by “more severe and disruptive weather patterns,” Duterte said, strained governments with limited resources “and citizens with even less capabilities to handle disasters.”

The Philippines, for one, is still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Ompong that caused a large amount of destruction in Luzon in September. The storm killed scores of people and damaged billions of pesos worth of farm output and infrastructure.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami, meanwhile, killed thousands in the city of Palu in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province on September 28.

Duterte added terrorism and violent extremism as well as transnational crimes such as the illegal drug trade “lure the disadvantaged and marginalized into divisive, devious and destructive alternatives to genuine development.” — BAP, GMA News

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