Press Briefing

Pre-Departure Briefing by Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera-Lim on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Attendance to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit

Event Pre-Departure Briefing
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room



ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Good morning. Good morning to everybody. Siguro ‘yung initial statement ko lang.

None of you is unfamiliar with APEC ‘no, it’s one of the key regional groupings that we — or platform that the Philippines participate in to broaden our advocacies and growth concerns or promotions in the region ‘no.

In the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the key priorities of the Philippines would be full participation of the micro, small and medium enterprises in the global economy, sustainable and inclusive growth, connectivity and human resources development.

I think it’s — it needs stressing that nine out of our ten top trading partners are within the APEC Economies.

And then in particular also, it’s very rare that APEC and ASEAN meetings will happen back-to-back within the ASEAN region.

That’s why I think a lot of people are pretty much excited on this — para bang development this year.

And then, in terms of the key messages, I think, during the past year the Duterte administration has made inclusive growth and pro-poor agenda, so the hallmarks of its development plan; and this ties into bringing MSMEs into the global value chain.

So I think I’m open to your questions on APEC.


Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir. Good morning.

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Good morning.

Ms. Halili: Sir, may we know kung ano-ano po ‘yung mga countries na naka-schedule for bilateral meeting with the President at the sideline of the APEC Summit?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Right now, I think, we cannot disclose to you ‘yung ano. But we have certain requests, both coming from the Philippines and coming from APEC Economies.

Usually, this is finalized after the Foreign Ministers’ Meet in Da Nang. The Foreign Ministers will meet on the 8th of November.

So dun lang natin mafa-finalize ‘yung mga bilaterals between the Economic Leaders.

Ms. Halili: At least, sir, may we know kung ano-ano pong mga countries ‘yung binigyan ng request ng Philippines?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Without disclosing, I think, the — whether who made the request or which country received the request, I think, top of this would be countries like China, well Vietnam because it’s the host country, and then we’re looking also to meet with Russia to —

But you could imagine, almost or all of the countries going to APEC that are key or important to the Philippines, their leaders will visit the Philippines the week later ‘no.

The APEC culminates in November 11. They will have pretty much a day to travel to the Philippines and reorient themselves from the APEC gear to the ASEAN — ASEAN gear ‘no.

Ms. Halili: So, sir, ang priority po ba natin ‘yung mga countries na — o ‘yung mga heads of state na hindi na maga-attend for ASEAN, for the bilateral?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Pretty much. Pretty much, that would be one of the priorities.

But again, the priorities would — that would factor in only after we determined whom — what countries are important for the country going forward within the APEC Economies.

Those that share our advocacy within APEC and, at the same time, those that we feel will be important for us as we move the Philippine agenda within APEC.

And, I think, if you’re excited for next year’s APEC because some of us are like already looking forward, book your tickets to Papua New Guinea.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Parang hindi pa kayo nakakapunta doon eh, so — that will be exciting.

John Paolo Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, sir. Good morning.

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Good morning.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, may we just know what will be the position of the Philippines when it comes to RCEP — the talks on RCEP — because I think this will be also agenda of the APEC Summit?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, RCEP or any other regional arrangement that increases free trade, free and open trade platform, is welcomed by the Philippines ‘no because we see the value in removing all the barriers towards the participation of entrepreneurs or the different economic units of the country into the global economy.

So whatever acronym you call that platform would be viable for the Philippines.

‘Yung RCEP is, right now, pretty much the only boat afloat ‘no in terms of the regional groupings.

As you know, TPP was one of the big boats before, supposedly the gold standard of FTAs but that vessel has slowed down dramatically during the past few months and everybody is onboard on RCEP.

RCEP is a bigger ano, it’s ASEAN Plus Six, virtually. So it’s pretty much a bigger boat, bigger vessel, so the Philippines is interested in that vessel.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, is — will the President push for the conclusion of the talks of the RCEP within the APEC Summit?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, we’ve tried to move RCEP within the ASEAN Chairmanship of the Philippines faster than it would have had by engaging a lot of the necessary parties ‘no.

I think, we’re modestly satisfied that we’ve made substantial improvements.

In terms of using APEC as a platform for RCEP, I don’t think it will happen.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hi, sir. Sir, the President will be meeting with US President Donald Trump for the first time in APEC. It’s probably one of the more awaited events for the — for Filipinos here, can you just…

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: And for Americans also.

Ms. Ranada: Okay, yeah. So, sir, can you just give us — how are we preparing for this first meeting and could you maybe run us down to what we can expect from the first meeting? What’s the context? Which event will be the first time they will actually be seeing each other for the first time?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, there are several opportunities both at the Welcome Dinner on the 8th, and then there will also be several engagements including Gala Dinner and the meeting itself under the APEC and the meeting between APEC and ASEAN that will happen in Vietnam.

So there’s several, several opportunities for exchanges. I think, if you see pretty much a convergence between the two Presidents would be: one, on national security, both at the country level and at the regional level; and then number two, the desire to grow the different engines of global economy ‘no. So that, at least, there will be a bigger participation of the population in the benefits of a free, open trading system.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, will Honeylet Avanceña join the President in Vietnam?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: I’m not aware of the — I’m not informed of the specific delegation list or who will accompany the President.

Probably that would be best answered by the Office of the President.

Ms. Ranada: Or the chances of a bilateral meeting between the two Presidents more likely in Vietnam versus in Manila for ASEAN?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Once you’re there in Da Nang, the opportunity increases eh ano. So I think most likely they will — meaning, they, the US will seek out our President to even have a — at best a meeting on the sidelines of APEC ‘no.

Because, you could imagine I think amongst the Presidents elected in 2016, it’s our President that continues to get attraction in the international fora.

Ms. Ranada: Thank you, sir.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, you mentioned kanina that Americans are also interested in the President. How did you say this? Have there been request from their part to meet with the President as early as the APEC Summit in Vietnam.

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, as I told you earlier, I cannot confirm who made the request. It’s not at my level that’s made — because I think both countries have an interest to move the — our converging agendas forward ‘no.

And I think that fact that it’s a first face-to-face meeting, sometimes both parties will try to maximize the opportunity.

Mr. Morong: So, sir, even if they’re going to have a schedule already in ASEAN, you’re not counting out the schedule in Vietnam? A bilateral?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, not at all. It’s a… In a forum or in a platform that you have 21 Economic Leaders, one, the chances of a not a scheduled bilateral but even a pull aside, a meeting would be — would not be easily discounted ‘no.

There’s enormous opportunity within that three to four days to have a small, a closer discussion of issues that are close to the hearts of both the US and the Philippines. So… If I’m betting money, it will be higher than 50 percent chances.

Mr. Morong: Sir, aside from the meetings that the leaders will have, will the President have a session or a speaking engagement during that time?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Yes, there’s an opportunity to interact with the ASEAN Business Advisories or the top businessmen of our region. And pretty much, I think you will not be surprised — there’s no key surprises on what the message of the President would be.

It’s pretty much a drive or a push for the micro, the small, and the medium, enterprises. Not only within the Philippines but across the region.

And at the same time, the President will push for pretty much the foundation also of — allied with MSME advocacy which is sustainable and inclusive business ‘no.

I think you can see it in a lot of the documents globally including sustainable development goals and the development plans of the Philippines. We want to engage pretty much every breathing member of the country into an economic life that suits their purpose and their aspirations.

Mr. Morong: Thank you, sir.

Cecil Morella (Agence France-Presse): Cecil Morella of the French news agency. Are you in any way involved with the ASEAN preparations?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: ASEAN? Usually, we talk only the… But I’m not intricately involved. Depends on your question. What…?

Mr. Morella: We’re still confused about which events will be held in Clark — at Clark and which ones will be held in Manila? And if all the leaders will be flying to Clark instead of Manila airport?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: That one would be pretty much organizational. I’m not aware who’s landing in Clark and who’s landing in Manila.

But pretty much the Leaders’ event would be in Manila.

Jopel Pelenio (DWIZ): Sir, for the… Sorry, na-late kasi. Iko-confirm lang, sir, kung tuloy po talaga ‘yung meeting with Trump?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Hindi. Ang ano naming… Right now, there’s no confirmation yet on all the bilaterals but usually we can anticipate that between two to four would be a good number to get in terms of bilaterals.

And as I mentioned earlier, I cannot disclose who makes the request but Philippines would be among the countries that many of those attending APEC would want to meet.

One out of the curiosity of the advocacy of the Philippines within the APEC itself. Because remember, we’re still not far removed from the hosting of our APEC two years ago. And if you look at some of the key priority programs under the chairmanship of Vietnam, some of them are pretty much a carry over of the advocacy of the Philippines.

So at least ‘pag ka ganun, the advocacy of the country gains traction within the region. That’s good for us eh. It develops a wider appreciation of the advocacy of the country.

Fe Alinio (Radyo Pilipinas): Sir, how many Cabinet members are joining in the APEC?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: That one would be — I think the Office of the President gets the final say. Ang sure lang ako isa eh. Si Secretary Cayetano so…

So you can add Secretary Lopez. I have two that I’m sure who will be there.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, just to clarify. You said, priority will be given to the leaders not attending ASEAN. So you’re referring to President Xi Jinping and President Putin, is that correct?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Well, that would be…  Not exactly priority but that would factor in the request. I think even from the other side, from the Chinese side. If they’re sure not of attending ASEAN because of their practice, they most likely will request for the President.

Ms. Ranada: So those are the two leaders?


Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir, may we know how big is the delegation and how much budget is the government allocating for this trip in APEC?

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: I think that’s not — I’m not aware of the size of the delegation or the budget. That’s pretty much a final say of the Office of the President.

Thank you rin.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV 4): See you in Vietnam, sir.

ASEC. HERRERA-LIM: Who’s traveling to Vietnam ba? Lahat kayo? So I hope you enjoy. Da Nang is a nice place. It’s…

We’ve not been there for the longest time. I hope you have time to look at the area. It’s the third most important destination for trade and tourism in Vietnam.

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