29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand (Contributed photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday enjoined his fellow Asia-Pacific leaders to take concrete steps to make the agriculture sector "modern and resilient."

During the second retreat session of the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Marcos said the 21-man regional bloc must invest in food security as it is one of the key drivers to the Asia-Pacific region's economic future.

He said helping farmers and fishermen adopt new technologies is vital to attain food security.

“We need to take concrete steps towards modern and resilient agriculture. Food is not just a trade commodity, it is not a livelihood. It is a survival imperative, it is a moral imperative. It is the very basis of human security,” Marcos told session participants.

“To attain food self-sufficiency and security, we are providing innovative solutions and financial support to farmers and fisherfolk to adopt new technologies and connect to national and global value supply chains.”

During the APEC CEO Summit on Thursday, Marcos emphasized the importance of the public and private sectors' stronger partnerships in infrastructure, energy, and agriculture projects to boost the economy.

Climate change factor

Apart from a modern and resilient agriculture sector, Marcos also called on the other leaders to address climate change, saying it is "the greatest existential threat" affecting the region.

The APEC member economies, he said, should create a trade and investment environment "that assists in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, facilitating climate financing, and ensuring genuine and effective technology transfer for the most vulnerable developing countries."

He likewise sought closer cooperation to address plastics pollution, encourage sustainable plastics trade, and move towards a circular regional economy.

He shared that the Philippines is carefully evaluating the imposition of an excise tax on single-use plastics to curb plastic pollution, in favor of more sustainable alternatives.

“APEC has done remarkable work in embedding a sustainability agenda as part of its Vision and Action Plan. We should act swiftly to set it in motion,” Marcos said.

Established in 1989, the APEC is a regional economic forum with 21 member economies. It is aimed at promoting regional economic integration in a non-legally binding manner and a friendly environment.

The Philippines’ fellow APEC members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. (PNA)