Duterte heading to Singapore, Papua New Guinea for ASEAN, APEC meets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte is flying to Singapore Monday afternoon to join regional leaders at the 30th Association of Southeast Asians (ASEAN) summit and from there will travel to Papua New Guinea for this week's 19th Asia-Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Duterte is expected to touch on the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea at ASEAN meetings also to be attended China.

However, it is not yet clear whether Duterte would bring up the issue of China's opening of weather stations in the disputed waters.

READ: Philippines to take action if Chinese weather stations in South China Sea are verified - Palace

The Korean peninsula, global trade and transboundary issues like terrorism and human trafficking are also expected to be tackled at the ASEAN meet.

Many leaders are reportedly requesting for a bilateral meeting with President Duterte, but the DFA cannot give details on these yet.

Duterte will be in Singapore until November 15 and would then head to Papua New Guinea for the 19th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. He will be joining leaders of the 21-member Pacific Rim group's meetings scheduled November 17 -18.

Focus on MSMes

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said Monday that Duterte would give emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines for them to tap technology to break into the international market.

"The President conveys his support for mechanisms that will enable our MSMEs … to take advantage of digital and online platforms to benefit their enterprises and to bring their products and services overseas," Abella said.

Abella said Duterte would be joining a dialogue with prominent business leaders during the APEC Business Advisory Council meeting and with other APEC leaders at the Pacific Island Forum.

He added that "there will be a lot of dialogues with other countries," but cannot give specific details on these bilateral meetings yet.

However, Abella said no meetings have been set with US Vice President Mike Pence and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who are attending the summit in lieu of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, respectively.

Duterte first met with Trump during the 2017 APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, while he met Putin for the second time in the same event.

The three have been compared with one another, with Duterte and Putin appearing on Time Magazine's May 2018 issue on strongmen.

Duterte would also be meeting with the Filipino community based in Papua New Guinea, most of whom are agricultural experts who help in rice production in the country, Abella said.

"This is a new era for Filipino engagement on the world stage. The Asia-Pacific region represents the epicenter of global growth, making APEC the most important economic platforms in the world," Abella said.

Home to around 40,000 Filipinos and 215 Philippine companies, Papua New Guinea would hosting the APEC summit for the first time. The Philippines last hosted the event in 2015.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.