Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 Business and Investment Program Launch
Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace
24 January 2017
Thank you. Kindly sit down.

Excellencies of the ASEAN member states, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Secretary Ramon Lopez, Mr. Joey Concepcion, the others members of the Cabinet, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I guess, I was about three minutes late. I do not live in this building. I live on the other side of the river and I commute to and fro in a tugboat everyday.

Naubusan ho kami ng gasolina midway, (laughter) that’s why, I’m late.

Good afternoon. We’re here today to launch ASEAN’s Business and Investment Program for the year 2017.

More than anything else, this program is a shared vision and a roadmap of what we all hope to achieve, genuine transformative economic change that will benefit all of the ASEAN peoples.

After all, our people’s under betterment have always been at the core of the ASEAN efforts. Certainly, ASEAN has made significant inroads.

Since inception, ASEAN has made tremendous strides in improving the lives of our peoples. From a region fraught with challenges, ASEAN now stands out for its dramatic diversity and dynamism.

We have a huge market worth over 2.5 trillion US dollars. Collectively, the 7th largest global economy, ASEAN member states also represent the third largest market base in the world, next only to China and India.

With our economic integration, ASEAN benefits from a vibrant flow of the exchange of goods, services, and investments.

And with both young and skilled labor in ASEAN, there are emerging creative forces just waiting to be tapped and unleashed.

Make no mistake, our ASEAN today is much changed from the Southeast Asia in 1967. Our ASEAN today presents many real opportunities for investments to grow, for investors within and outside of our region.

ASEAN needs to sustain its momentum towards inclusive growth, ensure that businesses and industries continue to thrive and secure a policy environment that supports meaningful economic change and reform.

Under the Philippines’ chairmanship, ASEAN will continue on this road towards greater progress and prosperity.

We’ll work tirelessly to ensure that ASEAN’s economic integration as an object and instrument of policy are fully harnessed.

We will work together with ASEAN member states and partners to ensure that the trajectory of inclusive growth remains always on the upswing.

To do this, the Philippines will focus on the following: First, particular attention to be paid to the micro, small, and medium industries that form the backbone of the ASEAN’s collective economy.

The objective is to build the capacities of MSMEs to make them active and competitive players in the national, regional, and global economies.

I encourage business leaders and the enterprises here to tap the MSMEs and help them integrate into the national, regional valued chain.

Sub-regional economic cooperation such as the BIMP-EAGA, which the Philippines will chair this year, will likewise be crucial in pursuing development initiative at the grassroots.

Second, full fulfillment will be sought for the pursuit of innovation-led growth. The objective is to use technology, innovation and creativity to spur growth in existing industries and to stimulate new ones, including starts-up.

If we’re able to evolve toward becoming smart economies, we have to be intelligent about investments, which includes investment not just in the areas of science and research and development but equally important is our precious human resources.

Third, empowerment of women, to be advanced so that they can take on the greater economic roles and participate even more broadly in nation and region-building.

The objective is to achieve the full economic potentials of women and to bridge the gender gap.

Figures from study show that advancing gender equality will result in 900 billion US dollars additional output to east and west East Asian economies in 2025.

In ASEAN, we will go beyond that and focus on achieving the equity and justice that all our women deserve.

As partners in development, I welcome your interest and commitment to be the catalysts for change and consolidators in our gauge.

I urge you, all business leaders and enterprises, to take an active part in the vital programs developed to support initiatives under the Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship.

These include the ASEAN MSMEs mentors’ conference and ASEAN creative business forum and exhibit. The ASEAN women’s business conference, the inclusive business summit, the 2nd ASEAN young entrepreneurs’ carnival, creative market place slingshot and the ASEAN MSMEs Summit.

Your experience and expertise will help in ensuring that our roadmap to growth remains responsive and relevant.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, indeed, ASEAN’s action for agenda will be full. We will be working on agreements on facilitating investments, reducing the cost of doing business, developing MSMEs, improving and harmonizing safety standards, developing innovation economies and increasing the participation of the youth and women.

Yet, we’ll likewise be firm in our resolve to bring these agreements into a fruition.

In upholding our region’s common interest and advancing towards our collective goals, know that the Philippines will work closely with the ASEAN member states and will engage our partners constructively to fully realize the positive changes we desire and aspire for our region.

Let us together work ASEAN even stronger, more resilient and ready to do business.

Daghang salamat. (applause)