A foreign leader has cited the Philippines as the future of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
South Korean President Moon Jae-in made the projection, noting the significant growth rate of the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The Philippines is the future of ASEAN as it continues to achieve an impressive growth rate of six percent this year thanks to your (President Duterte) outstanding leadership,” Moon said.
“Through our meeting today, I hope to strengthen my friendship with you and expand our bilateral cooperation that will contribute further to the development of ASEAN,” Moon told Duterte.
Moon and Duterte held their bilateral meeting on the first day of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit.
Duterte was in Busan, South Korea for the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the regional bloc’s dialogue relations with South Korea.
In response, President Duterte assured Moon that the Philippines will continue to find common ground to enhance its ties with South Korea.
“I assure you that the Philippines will continue to find common cause and purpose with the Republic of Korea towards enhancing our bilateral engagement and promoting peace and stability in your region,” he said.
This year, the Philippines is celebrating its 70th year of diplomatic relations with South Korea. The Philippines was the first among ASEAN countries to establish diplomatic ties with the East Asian nation.
In the same meeting, Moon expressed his country’s desire to elevate its relations with the Philippines to a strategic partnership, saying this would allow both countries to attain the same level of prosperity.
Moon said that with the lasting friendship between the Philippines and South Korea, it was now time to think about elevating the 70-year relations between the two countries.
Moon said doing so would allow the two Asian nations attain the same level of prosperity.
“Based on our history of friendship and trust, the time is right for our countries to think about elevating our relations to a strategic partnership. The elevation of our relations will pave the wave for our countries to engage in greater cooperation that will lead us to common prosperity,” he said.
Strategic partnerships cover a wide range of bilateral relations including, but not limited to, defense, education, health, agriculture, tourism, and economic relations.
In Asia, the Philippines is strategic partners with Japan and Vietnam.
During the bilateral meeting, the Philippines and South Korea signed an agreement on social security, education, and fisheries.
Both countries also signed an implementation program of the Memorandum of Understanding on tourism cooperation.
Duterte and Moon also witnessed the signing of a joint statement on the early achievement package of the negotiations on free trade agreement (FTA).
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said President Duterte has invited President Moon to undertake a State Visit to the Philippines next year, saying this would be the perfect timing for the two countries to sign an FTA.
The 30th ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit gathered from November 25 and November 26 leaders of the 10 ASEAN-member states to discuss three decades of partnership with Korea, as well as to tackle pressing issues.
The ASEAN member countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Duterte flew back to Manila on November 26.