President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim leaders’ summit in Lima, Peru.
The bilateral meetings will take place on Saturday noon, before the formal opening of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Duterte has sought closer ties with China and Russia as he criticizes the US for its wartime abuses and alleged failure to deliver on its alliance with the Philippines.
The President left yesterday after initial misgivings over the long flight to the Peruvian capital.
It will be Duterte’s first time to attend the annual meeting of 21 heads of economies, whose aim is to foster free trade in the Asia-Pacific. This year’s summit is expected to be overshadowed by worries over the protectionist policies of US President-elect Donald Trump.
Barack Obama, whom Duterte had repeatedly criticized, is attending his last APEC summit as US president, it was learned.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye, who is facing a corruption scandal back home, and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who is leading the mourning for Thailand’s late king, will miss the annual regional summit.
It is also unclear if New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will attend following the strong earthquake in his country.
The Philippines is open for business, Duterte said in his pre-departure speech at the Davao International Airport, stressing that investment is on top of his agenda when he meets leaders of the APEC.
“My message to APEC will be clear: The Philippines is open for business. We will do everything to make sure that business, particularly our MSMEs [micro, small, medium enterprises], will thrive and flourish,” the President said during his pre-departure briefing before flying to the Peruvian capital.
“I will highlight government policy support as well as efforts to address corruption and criminality as building blocks of a strong and resilient economy aimed at inclusive and continued growth,” Duterte said.
“As I have said before, your government is working very hard to make sure that our economy will finally take flight,” he added.
The President noted he will bring up during the APEC meetings the components of the administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, particularly improvements in doing business, more responsive and efficient governance, massive investment in infrastructure, focus on rural development, and increased investment in human capital.
“We must harness the potential of this huge region to ensure that no one, especially our citizens, are left behind in the march for greater progress and prosperity. Our people are at the core of our program on inclusive growth and sustainable development, we will spare no effort to realize this in the context of APEC,” the President stressed.
Filipino businesses “must be ready to further deepen and broaden our engagement with South America, especially those that straddle the Pacific, as economic partners,” he added.
The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Peru takes place on Nov. 19 to 20.