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DFA exec denies Duterte avoiding layover in US for Apec summit

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 03:08 PM November 14, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

President Rodrigo Duterte. AP File Photo/Bullit Marquez

An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) denied rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte chose to fly to Lima, Peru through a roundabout route via New Zealand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit to avoid having to lay over in the United States.

“I don’t think so,” said DFA Senior Special Assistant Leo Lim-Herrera, who gave a pre-departure briefing to reporters covering the Apec Economic Leaders Meeting from Nov. 19 to 20.

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“It’s over technical matters, like the capacity of the plane and fuel storage,” he said when asked to explain Duterte’s choice.

Lim-Herrera said flying to the Peruvian capital via New Zealand actually made sense as both countries were in the southern hemisphere.

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READ: Biz buzz: Roundabout Apec route

Most of the Filipino journalists traveling to Peru will take flights with layovers in Los Angeles or Houston.

Fresh from his trips in Malaysia and Thailand, Duterte lat Friday said he was considering skipping Apec as the long-haul flight would take a heavy toll on his body.

But his officials later said the President would be attending the Apec meetings “for now.”

READ: Palace: Duterte to attend Apec summit in Peru… for now

Asked what changed his mind, Lim-Herrera said Duterte knew how important Apec was to the Philippines and the region.

“Apec is one good platform for him to articulate his policies. When you look at the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the President, many of the agenda items [are] within the sphere of Apec. It’s good for the President to articulate it and share it to other economic leaders,” he said.

The DFA official said Apec was the “second most important alliance” of the Philippines, next only to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

He noted that overall, the country’s trade with Apec member economies stood at more than P103 billion, representing 80 percent of all its trade. Its trade with Asean countries is at over P24 billion, representing 19 percent of Philippine trade.

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Apec is an economic, trade and investment forum among 21 Pacific Rim countries, including the Philippines, the United States, China and Russia. It’s a year-long series of discussions that culminate in the Economic Leaders Meeting.

The member economies of Apec account for approximately 40 percent of the world’s population, an estimated 55 percent of world gross domestic product, and about 44 percent of global trade. RAM

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TAGS: APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, President Rodrigo Duterte
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