DAVAO CITY–President Rodrigo Duterte will push the global campaign against transnational crimes with neighbouring Myanmar and Thailand, banking on the three countries’ common interests and long-standing relations.
The transnational crimes the President vowed to push include the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, piracy and the illicit drug trade, which are also part of his administration’s campaign.
His official visits to Myanmar and Thailand will form the final leg of his introductory trips to ASEAN-member countries that he started last year after accepting the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In his visit to the two countries, the President will highlight common interests in sustaining inclusive growth and development for their peoples.
Duterte said Philippines and Myanmar maintain good relations for the past six decades.
The visit to Myanmar from March 19 to 20 will reportedly coincide with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines-Myanmar bilateral relations.
“As developing countries with similar historic experiences and facing the same challenges, we can use the synergies of interests as basis for strengthened cooperation,“ said Duterte during his departure Sunday from the Davao International Airport at around 2:40 p.m. .
The President also emphasized the two countries’ common interest in sustaining inclusive growth and development for their nationals.
Duterte said that bilateral trade and investment will be the key areas of discussion in his meetings with Myanmar officials, noting that Myanmar’s economic development is one of the fastest in the region.
“With expanding Philippine businesses making their [marks] around the region and in Myanmar, we can encourage collaboration in mutually beneficial sectors of growth, including in pharmaceuticals and food and beverage,” he said.
Earlier reports said that the top exports to Myanmar are medicaments for therapeutic or prophylactic uses while the country’s major imports from Myanmar are agricultural products.
The Philippines reportedly ranked as Myanmar’s 16th biggest investor in 2016, with some Filipino firms already established there namely United Pharma, Liwayway Corporation, Asia Brewery, Splash Corporation, Manila Water, ComWorks, and Universal Robina Corporation. Last year, Phinma Education along with leading clothing brands Bench and Penshoppe also put their businesses in Myanmar.
The President is meeting with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
At these meetings, Duterte said he will convey the Philippines’ support for the reforms being undertaken by Myanmar as well as in its efforts to address challenges in the region
Both governments will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding on Food Security and Agricultural Cooperation.
In Thailand, Duterte said he will renew the Philippines’ commitment to further enhance the already excellent relations with Bangkok.
According to the President, Philippines and Thailand have the longest formal relationship for 67 years. ”It is fitting that as Chair of ASEAN, I make this important trip to a co-founder of the ASEAN in the capital where the foundation of ASEAN was laid 50 years ago. ”
“There is much at stake in relations. We have to move forward together on shared interests in securing security and stability in the region as we seek to sustain growth and development for our peoples,” he said.
The President will be meeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss strengthening defense relations, intensifying trade and investment, enhancing education and cooperation, among others.
Duterte is also meeting the Filipino communities of Myanmar and Thailand, describing Filipinos abroad “as key partners for positive change and reform in the government. ”
Upon his arrival in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw, the President will be meeting first the Filipino community, which includes teachers, lawyers, engineers and humanitarian workers.