President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday was warmly welcomed by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders during his first ASEAN summit since he assumed office.
During the opening ceremony of the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh, the President was cited by leaders from Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand in their respective speeches.
In his remarks, President Marcos said he was “deeply honored” to attend his first ASEAN Summit “as we continue our ASEAN community building efforts together.”
“We now can stand witness to how that small group has evolved not only in number but also in political strength and economic power. We now convene major powers and bring them to the table to discuss significant regional and international issues,” the President pointed out.
As an economic power, the President cited ASEAN’s establishment of free trade area with a combined gross domestic product.
The chief executive also noted the ASEAN Development Outlook forecast that ASEAN will surpass the European Union by 2030 to become the fourth largest economy in the world.
With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in place, Marcos said ASEAN is poised to recover well after the pandemic and “remains an attractive investment and production center of the global supply chain.”
The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 ASEAN member states and its five FTA partners that include Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.
The chief executive also called for solidarity in addressing pressing issues affecting ASEAN, its partners, and the world.
“In spite of our cultural, economic, and political diversity, let us enhance our solidarity as we confront the changing tides of natural disasters, health emergencies, armed conflict, and economic recessions,” Marcos pointed out.