Globalisation has pressed the brightest workers from poor Southeast Asian countries to move overseas in a brain drain that must be reversed if real development is to be achieved, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.
In an impassioned appeal by a leader better known for expletive-flecked outbursts, Duterte said the efforts of poorer countries to rise up the value chain are being undercut by mass migration of skilled workers.
“Globalisation to a certain extent has really damaged poor economies,” he said in a speech to CEOs gathered in Danang, Vietnam, ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
By way of example he said, “the best of our young (Filipinos)… tend to go to the places where the economy is thriving,” such as the United States.
More than 10 million Filipinos work overseas, around 10 percent of the population, remitting billions of dollars back to the country each year.
He acknowledged Donald Trump’s complaints that globalisation has also sent American manufacturing jobs to cheaper countries such as China.
But Duterte said poorer nations faced the hardest edge of global commerce as they are stripped of labour and raw materials to fuel a world economy they can not compete in.
He urged ASEAN — the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc of nations — to speed up economic integration to power the region up the manufacturing chain, retain its skilled workers and educate those “left behind”.
“We only provide the raw materials” which are then sent back by richer manufacturing countries for “four times the price”, he said, adding “that is globalisation.”
He vowed to “forcefully” carry the message of unity to the ASEAN summit which he is hosting in Manila from Monday.
Globalisation and the rules of trade are under the microscope in Vietnam this week, where world leaders including Trump, China’s Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are set to converge from Friday for the APEC summit.