June 24, 2019
China and the United States should exert every effort to end a trade war as it is “taking a toll on global growth,” President Rodrigo Duterte said.
“The US and China must both take the high road and resolve their differences before the situation spirals out of control,” Duterte said on Saturday at the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
Asean, for its part, “must strengthen our support for a rules-based and open multilateral trading system,” he added.
Washington and Beijing have engaged in tit-for-tat tariff increases after US President Donald Trump introduced an “America First” policy to address supposed trade imbalance.
The dispute has gone beyond duties, with Chinese tech giants, such as Huawei, banned from securing contracts and raw materials for “security reasons.” A senior official was arrested in China and faces extradition to the US, while Google has also dropped support for the latest Huawei handsets.
“[W]e should be partners, not competitors,” Duterte said in calling for the rejection of a zero-sum approach to economic relations.
“The Philippines, therefore, supports the Asean Single Window — a concrete initiative towards a seamless cross-border trade,” he added.
The Asean Single Window aims to expedite customs payments and the clearance of cargo via the electronic exchange of required documents, reducing trade barriers within the 10-nation bloc.
In his speech, Duterte noted progress made by Asean over the past five decades amid challenges such as the US-China trade war, terrorism, illegal drugs, transnational crimes and natural disasters
With regard to the last, he said “We must hold countries most responsible for climate change to account, to answer. We must adapt and build our resilience by advancing initiatives that care for the people and the environment.”
Asean’s continued development, Duterte continued, would require investments in the region’s “greatest resource — our people.” This includes programs for micro, small and medium enterprises; tapping technological advancements, expanding infrastructure; and increased people-to-people connectivity.
FROM REPORTS BY RALPH U. VILLANUEVA
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