UK seeks stronger trade, security ties with PH
MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom seeks increased security and trade ties with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries but London also wants to see reforms that advance open societies and economies, visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday.
In a policy speech delivered at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City, Hague said the United Kingdom is determined to build an even stronger relationship with the Philippines, which he said “clearly has the potential to be one of Asia Pacific’s great success stories.”
“[We] want to support you in that, to the benefit of both our peoples,” Hague said, as he lauded the Philippines’ strong economic policies, the Filipino workers’ hard work here and abroad, and good governance.
“I am here in Manila today because the UK government is set on building an even stronger relationship with the people and government of the Philippines: a relationship that is forward-looking; characterized by optimism, dynamism and trust, and founded on our common values,” he added.
He said economic growth was achieved not only in “vibrant democracies” such as Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, but also in countries such as China, Vietnam and Laos that retain single-party rule and have a legacy of state-ownership of businesses.
“Some people think Asia’s economic success has called into question the value of open economies and societies. Those people argue that Asia’s rise proves autocratic forms of capitalism are just as capable of economic success as stable democracies, and that countries can do without the values of individual liberty, free markets and the rule of law,” he said.
Hague said individual liberty, free markets and the rule of law are “universal values” that work, and would count a lot in sustaining economic growth as Asian countries face challenges such as aging population, middle-income trap and corruption that threaten development.
He said the challenges can be met by improving competitiveness, enhancing innovation and raising productivity.
“To achieve sustainable growth and long-term prosperity, a commitment to free societies and open economies of the kind I have encountered in Indonesia and the Philippines is, in my view, vital, matched by sensible policy and good leadership,” he said.
He enumerated five principles which he said underpin sustainable growth and will be crucial for the stability and success of countries in Asia and elsewhere as they adapt to a changing world: a lean but effective public sector; rule of law to encourage investment and enhance competition; respect and protection for individual freedoms; commitment to free trade; and investment in human capital and infrastructure.
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