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Trump lauds Manila over gender issues

DA NANG, Vietnam--Firebrand US President Donald Trump on Friday gave lavish praise for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines, for being among the first countries in the world to close the gender gap, but before launching a tirade against “violations, cheating or economic aggression” in the region. 

 “The Philippines has emerged as a proud nation of strong and devout families.  For 11 consecutive years, the World Economic Forum has ranked the Philippines first among Asian countries in closing the gender gap and embracing women leaders in business and in politics,” Trump said before top business leaders in the Apec CEO Summit being held here. 

Speaking to reporters, President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, says he expects to have an “interesting time” with the firebrand leader, whom he vowed to give a “good handshake.”

Saying he is excited to meet Trump, Duterte said he felt “that we share so many ideas along the same line of problems of governance.”

"I know that I’d have an interesting time with him,” he said in a media interview Thursday night. 

Responding however to calls by American legislators for Trump to raise before Duterte allegations of extrajudicial killings happening in the country, Duterte warned the billionaire to “lay off” any talks on human rights. 

As of 8 p.m. in Vietnam (9 p.m. in Manila), both Trump and Duterte were expected to participate in the gala dinner in honor of the Apec leaders who gathered here. 

Since speaking during the Apec CEO Summit, Trump has yet to be seen  participating in any of the summit events that promotes inclusive growth and trade liberation. 

John Paolo Bencito, AFP Trump, who arrived here to attend the 2017 Apec Summit as part of his ongoing tour on Asia, has continued to double down on his “America First” policy, accusing Apec member-economies of undercutting the world’s largest economy—adding that US interests had been ill-served by the architecture of global trade.  

He vowed his country would “no longer tolerate” unfair trade, closed markets and intellectual property theft.

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of any more,” he added, taking a swipe at the World Trade Organization for failing to police free trade infringements.

“I am always going to put America first the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”

Trump arrived in Vietnam from Beijing, where he sought to build a consensus against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

In China he was gushing in his praise of Xi, calling his host “a very special man” in a trip rich with photo opportunities but lacking concrete outcomes on tackling key issues such as North Korea.

The rise of Trump as leader of the world’s biggest economy risks unpicking decades of US-led economic diplomacy that webbed global economies together with free trade and low tariff pacts.

He has pledged to wring a better deal from countries the US has large trade deficits with—including China—and bring jobs back to the hollowed out industrial heartland that voted for him.

But proponents of free trade, including many allies, have looked on aghast as the president tears up the rule book and anti-globalization arguments ricochet through the US and Europe.

Trump has already pulled Washington’s support from the sprawling 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership  trade pact and vowed to renegotiate Nafta, a trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico.

On Friday, Asia-Pacific ministers were struggling to salvage the TPP deal, with Canada denying reports that an agreement had been struck among the remaining 11 members to press ahead without the US.

The annual Apec summit is one of the largest gatherings on the annual diplomatic calendar, bringing together scores of world leaders and more than 2,000 CEOs.

Apec represents 21 Pacific Rim economies, the equivalent of 60 percent of global GDP and covering nearly three billion people, and has pushed for freer trade since its inception in 1989. AFP

Topics: US President Donald Trump

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