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Full text of Ernesto C. Abella’s speech at the 12th ASEAN-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction,June 29, 2018 Adjust font size:

The 12th China - ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, held on June 27th-29th in Manila, Philippines, aims to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation by discussing issues like rural rejuvenation, rural-urban poverty linkages and trade liberalization. 

The theme of forum is “Enhancing Poverty Reduction Partnerships for an ASEAN-China Community with a Shared Future”.

Ernesto C. Abella, DFA Undersecretary delivered a speech on behalf of Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Alan Peter S. Cayetano at the forum. The full text of the speech is as follows:

Secretary Liza Maza, National Anti-Poverty Commission;

Excellencies and distinguished guests from ASEAN Member States, China, and from various organizations;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning.

I am honored to be here to deliver the opening remarks on behalf of Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano.

Listening to the speakers before me, I must say that our thoughts converge on the compelling story that ASEAN and China share on the vital issues of social development and poverty reduction. To be sure, our region has made remarkable progress in lifting hundreds of millions from poverty, notably in China and most ASEAN member states.

Over the years, ASEAN’s holistic, participatory, and outward-looking approach to regional development spans important areas of cooperation in the ASEAN Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Community Pillars. We have witnessed vast improvements in the reduction of poverty among ASEAN Member States. Statistics show that extreme poverty has fallen across ASEAN from 17 percent in 2005 to seven percent in 2013.

In China, progressive policies and dynamic economy have helped more than 700 million people rise out of poverty within the past 30 years. According to the World Bank, China’s poverty rate has dropped from 70 percent in the late 70’s and early 80’s to the current rate of below five percent.

For the Philippines, human development and poverty reduction remains a top priority. In fact, we not only seek to reduce overall poverty rate from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 14 percent by 2022 but also aspire to provide for a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure lives for all Filipinos by 2040.

The Filipino collective long-term vision, aptly called AmBisyon Natin 2040, speaks to a future where our citizenry enjoys good work-life balance; a time where no one is poor or hungry; where convenient and affordable transport make families and friends more accessible; where our children benefit from quality education; a tomorrow that brings decent jobs and sustainable income that, among other things, enable us to be tourists in our own country and abroad. The wish list goes on and the ingredients combined all make for a desirable quality of life.

These are the very same things that our friends in ASEAN and China surely want. And this Forum demonstrates how we want our 27-year old ASEAN-China partnership to more vigorously serve the ends of regional peace and prosperity and, more broadly, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As a strategic partner, China has tangibly supported ASEAN’s community-building efforts, including initiatives to narrow the region’s development gap through, inter alia, grant assistance for the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI).

With the help of the ASEAN-China Centre in Beijing, trade, investment, tourism, educational and cultural cooperation between ASEAN and China continue to grow. In 2016, China remained ASEAN’s largest trading partner with total trade amounting to USD 368 billion. In the same year, China was ASEAN’s fourth largest external source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which was valued at USD 9.8 billion. 

ASEAN and China are also intensifying cooperation to combat corruption and enhance good governance and law enforcement cooperation following the issuance of the “ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Comprehensively Strengthening Effective Anti-Corruption Cooperation,” during the ASEAN-China Summit held here in Manila last year.

The latest ASEAN-China Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity 2016-2020 cover areas of cooperation such as public health, education, human resource and social protection, disaster management and connectivity, which comprise building blocks of stronger, sustainable and equitable human development in ASEAN Member States and China.

ASEAN-China cooperation in social development and poverty reduction is firmly focused on capacity-building initiatives, policy exchange, dialogues, knowledge-sharing and information exchanges, and technical cooperation that place our peoples at the center of the strategic partnership.

As both sides mark the ASEAN-China Year of Innovation this year, the Philippines looks forward to working with ASEAN and China to advance cooperation in technological innovation and the digital economy especially where these could deliver inclusive and innovation-led growth, one of the thematic priorities of the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017. 

Your discussions today – on agricultural development and transformation-led growth, rural rejuvenation, trade liberalization and innovation for poverty reduction – should broaden our collective knowledge and deepen national and regional capacities to bring forth not only poverty reduction but also a higher quality of life our peoples deserve. AmBisyon namin, AmBisyon natin. Indeed, we -- ASEAN and China -- share an indivisible vision of peace and prosperity. 

I have every confidence that this Forum will sow seeds of promising harvests for the good of generations to come. 

Godspeed and Mabuhay!

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