Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the APEC CEO summit in Vietnam's Da Nang city Nov. 9, 2017. Rodrigo Duterte urged APEC members to turn the Asia-Pacific into a "comprehensively connected and integrated" region. (Xinhua/Li Peng)
DA NANG, Vietnam, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has urged members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to turn the Asia-Pacific into a "comprehensively connected and integrated" region.
"In 2015, we reiterated our belief that a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement built on ongoing regional undertakings," Duterte said at an APEC CEO summit in Vietnam's central Da Nang city on Thursday.
In his keynote speech, the Philippine president urged the 21 APEC economies to continue advocating stronger and deeper regional economic integration by facilitating liberalization of trade and investment.
"Diversity will always pull us in separate directions, but regional integration anchored on open and free trade will allow us to maximize the opportunities presented by global trends like cross-border flows and digital developments," he told the APEC CEO summit attended by some 2,000 senior officials, business leaders and entrepreneurs.
As part of the ongoing APEC Economic Leaders' Week, the CEO summit is the largest annual event of the business community in Asia-Pacific, which culminates in the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on Friday and Saturday.
Duterte said as the fulcrum of several integrated mechanisms such as ASEAN, APEC can be instrumental in promoting more inter- and intra-regional trade, investment and people-to-people connectivity between other economic blocs.
"Since ASEAN and APEC are regions of vast physical divide, a stable, interconnected and integrated infrastructure is necessarily the backbone of our progress," Duterte said.
Besides physical connectivity, the president also urged the APEC business community to continue to promote people-to-people connectivity as a critical growth and development strategy.
He proposed that the APEC members adopt an Inclusive Business Model that provides opportunities for those at the "bottom of the pyramid."
"To unleash the full potential of globalization, we must create an inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity for growth."