MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to attend his first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit from November 19 to 20 in Lima, Peru.
This will be his second regional summit as president, following his participation at the 2016 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit last September in Laos.
The Philippines is one of 21 member economies of APEC, a regional group that aims to foster free trade and spur investments and economic growth.
How important are APEC member economies to the Philippines? For starters, Philippine trade with APEC member economies, worth $103.18 billion, accounts for roughly 80% of total Philippine trade.
Department of Foreign Affairs Special Senior Assistant for International Economic Relations Leo Herrera-Lim said the APEC is the “second most important grouping” for the Philippines, after the ASEAN.
Here’s what to expect from Duterte’s attendance to the summit:
1. Interaction with world leaders like US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. So far, no APEC leader has said they are skipping the summit, according to Herrera-Lim during a Palace news briefing on Monday, November 14. Other leaders expected to attend are Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and newly-elected Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who is hosting a dinner for the other leaders.
2. Bilateral meetings between Duterte and other leaders. There are 2 to 4 “target” bilateral meetings being arranged between Duterte and other leaders, said Herrera-Lim. But he deferred from saying who among the VIPs are involved in these meetings, saying the “fluid situation” means schedules could still change.
He could not confirm if Duterte would be meeting with Obama, a favorite subject of the Philippine President’s curse-laden tirades, or with Putin, his “idol” and “hero.”
Duterte might also have conversations with other leaders outside any arrangements. These can take place, for example, during the gala dinner on Saturday, November 19.
“That doesn’t count the seating arrangement at the gala dinner because between appetizer and dessert, there are lots of opportunities to discuss policy,” said Herrera-Lim.
3. Duterte’s schedule. Meetings for the summit will be held as early as November 14. But the summit itself, involving leaders from the member economies, will take place from November 19 to 20. Some highlights include an informal dialogue between APEC leaders and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a dialogue between leaders and top APEC CEOs who form the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
November 19 schedule:
8 am (Peru time) – APEC CEO Summit/ABAC Dialogue with Leaders
1:30 pm – Arrival of APEC Economic Leaders at the Lima Convention Center (leaders will be introduced in alphabetical order)
2 pm – General dialogue between the 21 Leaders and the 63 ABAC CEOs
2:20 pm – Break-out session between 21 Leaders and the 63 ABAC CEOs
3:40 pm – Informal dialogue between APEC and Pacific Alliance (Pacific Alliance members are Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia)
4:40 pm – Informal dialogue between APEC and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
7:15 pm – Gala dinner hosted by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
November 20 schedule:
9 am – Arrival of APEC Leaders at Lima Convention Center
9:30 am – Informal dialogue between APEC and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde
10:15 am – APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) Retreat 1 with theme, “Challenges to Free Trade and Investment in the Current Global Context”
2:30 pm – AELM Retreat 2 with themes, “Food Security, Climate Change Adaptation and Access to Water” and “Integrating the Asia-Pacific Towards a Real and Functional Connectivity in the Region”
5 pm – Adoption of the 24th APEC 2016 Leaders’ Declaration
5:15 pm – Conclusion and Farewell
7 pm – Tentative time of Duterte’s departure from Lima, Peru
4. Duterte to bring up peace and order, economic agenda of his administration. The President will have a chance to speak freely with other APEC leaders during the two AELM retreats on November 20.
Herrera-Lim said Duterte is likely to bring up initiatives of his administration such as support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). APEC priorities also dovetail nicely with the Duterte government’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, he said.
“When you look at the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the President, many of the agenda items there are within the sphere of APEC’s agenda. So it is good both for the President to articulate it and to share it with the other economic leaders because other economic leaders are also curious in terms of the President’s socioeconomic agenda,” said Herrera-Lim.
5. Duterte to travel to Peru via New Zealand, not US. Instead of taking a route that passes through Miami or New York to Lima, Duterte will pass through Auckland, New Zealand.
Herrera-Lim denied that Duterte’s aversion to the US had anything to do with the choice of route.
“In terms of the flight, no, it’s more of a technical matter – the capacity of the plane, the fueling stop. Usually, the amount of fuel the plane carries is balanced against the distance they have to travel,” he said.
No matter what the route, Duterte can expect a long flight, for which he already expressed apprehension for in a previous speech. The President said he does not like long-haul flights. – Rappler.com