DAVAO CITY, March 20 (PIA) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte hopes to strengthen economic ties with Myanmar, banking on a bilateral trade and investment as a key area of discussion when he pays a two-day visit in the said country.

“With expanding Philippine businesses making their marks around the region and in Myanmar, we can encourage collaboration in mutually beneficial sectors of growth, including in pharmaceuticals and food and beverage,” the President stated in his departure message as he left for Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar yesterday afternoon from the Davao International Airport.

He said Myanmar and the Philippines have “a common interest in sustaining inclusive growth and development for our peoples.”

Aside from the economic cooperation, the President is also set to discuss with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw and other high ranking officials, on the Philippines’ support for the reforms being undertaken by Myanmar.

“My visit will underscore our commitment to deepen partnership with Myanmar towards a brighter and better future. As developing countries with similar historic experiences and facing the same challenges, we can use the synergies of our interests as basis for strengthened cooperation.”

The President mentioned on the fight against traditional and emerging transnational crimes, including terrorism and violent extremism, piracy and the illicit drug trade, as among the common concerns that both countries are facing.

After Myanmar, Pres. Duterte will also pay a visit to Thailand beginning today until March 22.

“I look forward to meeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss strengthening defense intensifying enhancing cooperation,” he stated.

The President has also set to meet the Filipino communities in both Myanmar and Thailand, “who have been key partners in our program for positive change and reform in our government.”

“I will thank them for their support and apprise them of developments in our country,” he said.

The President’s official visits to Myanmar and Thailand form the final leg of his introductory trips to ASEAN countries, which is said to be timely to prepare the country to host the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila this April.

“These visits will complete my swing of our ASEAN neighborhood. It will also presage the important regional leadership role reposed upon us for this historic year for ASEAN,” Pres. Duterte stated. (PIA-XI/Carina L. Cayon)