Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has urged members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to maintain stable and robust connectivity in the 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 here on Thursday.
The Philippines, which is holding the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), hosted the 2015 APEC summit in Manila, reports Xinhua news agency.
In his keynote speech, the Philippine President urged the 21 APEC economies to continue advocating stronger and deeper regional economic integration by facilitating liberalisation 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 maximise the opportunities presented by global trends like cross-border flows and digital developments," he told the 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 the 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.
APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.
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