23 April 2015

APEC News Releases

APEC members must foster participation of small, medium enterprises to spur economic growth, says trade official
Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) must enhance the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the automotive industry to spur regional growth, a Philippine trade official has said.

In his keynote speech on Wednesday, Trade Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said globalization makes a good driver of cooperation because it enables many economies to be key players in automotive manufacturing by participating in production activities of global value chains (GVCs).

“But an economy’s participation in GVCs does not readily translate to inclusive growth. We need to deliberately foster SME participation in automotive GVCs,” Rodolfo said.

Globalized competition and barriers to trade have a disproportionate impact on SMEs as well as on larger enterprises, he said, noting however that by fostering SME development for inclusive growth, APEC economies also realize that a broad-based SME network is critical in providing support and complementation to larger enterprises.

Rodolfo further said that the development of small and medium enterprises could be a source of flexibility, nimbleness and quick reaction to emerging trends.

In short, he said, SME development is key not only for inclusive growth but also for sustaining competitive advantage.

Rodolfo also said that there are specific and tangible opportunities for APEC members to cooperate in developing SMEs in the automotive sector.

These include developing an actionable agenda on empowering SMEs to penetrate the supply chains and factory networks of automotive brand principals around the region.

He said that this can be done through the implementation of the GVC-SME for the Automotive Sector Project proposed by the Philippines and Malaysia.

The proposal is under South Korea’s umbrella project of Capacity-Building for SMEs’ Integration into Global Value Chains in Major Industries, proposed in 2014 by the Committee on Trade and Investments (CTI) during the 3rd Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the APEC.

There are also initiatives important to ensure SME participation as they involve the development of new products and of coordinating standards, he said.

These include discussions on a template for the E-Vehicle Roadmap, a deliverable of the 2015 Automotive Dialogue Working Group based on instructions of the CTI.

Trade experts value the global trade in auto parts at $1.5 trillion.

With SMEs accounting for 97 percent of firms in the APEC, experts said an integrated region necessarily requires SME participation.

The 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue opened in Makati City on Wednesday, carrying the theme, “Integrating SMEs into the Automotive Global Value Chains.” PND (as)

President Aquino welcomes the European Union’s lifting of yellow-card warning to the Philippines on illegal fishing
President Benigno S. Aquino III has welcomed the European Union’s (EU) decision to revoke its yellow-card warning issued to the Philippines regarding measures to fight illegal fishing.

The warning was issued in June last year after the EU deemed that the Philippines had previously not done enough to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The President said that “had the situation worsened, this would have alienated one of the biggest importers of fish for the Philippines, which would have been a blow against our fishing industry and Filipino fishermen”.

“This is why I tasked concerned agencies to work tirelessly to comply with the EU’s requirements. During my trip to Europe, I likewise discussed the issue with prominent EU officials to ensure that we are on the right track. I am pleased to report that, as of today, the EU has lifted its yellow-card warning against the Philippines,” President Aquino said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“Rest assured: We will continue to implement reforms to avoid a similar situation in the future, and strengthen our fishing industry even further. We are determined to do so, knowing just how many of our countrymen depend on this for their livelihood,” the President further said.

In a press statement, the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines said the EU “acknowledges the Philippines’ efforts to partner up with us in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

“Since an official dialogue started, the Philippines embarked on a series of reforms to upgrade its fisheries governance and successfully aligned it to international law. Achievements made by the Philippines include the adoption of a new Fisheries Code with a deterrent scheme of sanctions, the improvement of the traceability and catch certification schemes, reinforced cooperation with Papua New Guinea for inspection and control and coverage of the activities of the long distant fleet operating beyond Philippines waters,” it said

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella noted that “the Philippines has taken responsible action, amended its legal systems and switched to a proactive approach against illegal fishing”. EU ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux meanwhile said, “This recognition means that the ‘identification’ procedure that had started with a yellow card in June 2014 is stopped, the yellow card revoked – thanks to the good work done by the Philippines government and Congress.”

The country’s fishery exports to the EU amounted to EUR170 million in 2013, out of a total of EUR5.1 billion. PND (jm)

Small, medium enterprises must be linked to major automotive manufacturers, trade official says
The Asia-Pacific region’s automotive sector is facing the challenge of how to link small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the supply chains of big automotive manufacturing companies, a trade official said Thursday.

In her remarks to open a workshop for automotive stakeholders of member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Director Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa of the Department of Trade and Industry said the pattern of auto production and consumption in developed economies is now seen to have gradually shifted to the developing economies.

However, the shift of the major market to the developing economies is not translating into opportunities for SMEs in the region, said Halili-Dichosa, who chairs the ongoing 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue in Makati City.

Citing an APEC paper, she said SMEs have often been left out of the formation of global value chains (GVCs) as the fragmentation of production processes and cross-border trade take place within the network of transnational corporations.

The study also recognized that there is less room for SME auto parts manufacturers in the market due to their lagging capacity and diminishing competitive edge, she said.

At the same time, small parts suppliers are facing constraints on access to capital and this severely affects their adaptability and is forcing them to go out of business, according to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development paper published in 2009.

The key role of SMEs is to support and add efficiency to the production process and this is especially true in the automotive GVCs production fragmentation, Halili-Dichosa noted.

“It is thus important that more SMEs are brought inside the supply chains for inclusive growth in the APEC economies and help drive innovation in the industry,” she said.

In 2013, APEC economies accounted for 47.76 percent of world trade in motor vehicles and parts.

Although there has been a drop in the global trade of motor vehicles, it has been observed that APEC economies are more resilient.

Halili-Dichosa further said that the intraregional trade on motor vehicle parts is growing at an annual compounded rate of 5.28 percent.

Similarly, she said, trade in motor vehicle parts to the rest of the world is also growing at an annual compounded rate of 6.3 percent, which is bigger than the intraregional trade.

“The faster pace of growth in motor vehicle parts trade, compared to motor vehicle trade, suggests the growing importance of our economies in global value chains, not just in the Asia-Pacific region but with the rest of the world,” Halili-Dichosa said.

The SMEs account for 97 percent of total APEC firms, which have become more sophisticated and fragmented regionally to economize on scales, she added.

Economically speaking, she said, the Asia-Pacific region is an interesting area, as it exhibits constant growing incomes after the 2008 and 2009 global financial crisis.

The gross domestic product of APEC economies has been growing at an annual compounded rate of 2.7 percent after the 2013 crisis.

The combined gross domestic product of APEC economies has been growing steadily in the past several years, reaching $31.5 trillion in 2013.

Stakeholders in the region’s automotive industry attended Thursday’s workshop, entitled, “Linking the Automotive Parts Supplier SMEs to the Automotive global value chains,” to address challenges in the sector. PND (as)

Palace acknowledges resignation of Customs Chief, thanks him for ‘exemplary leadership’
The Palace on Thursday acknowledged that they have received information on the resignation of Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla.

“In behalf of the President, (Finance) Secretary Cesar Purisima thanked Commissioner Sevilla for his exemplary leadership in implementing reforms in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and for his dedicated service to the nation,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.“Consistent with the President’s mandate, the government is determined to pursue the reforms at the BOC and bring these to full fruition,” he said.

In a statement, Secretary Purisima credited Sevilla with helping turn the bureau into the “most improved government agency in terms of revenue collection last year.”

“I thank Commissioner Sunny Sevilla for his dedicated service and relentless pursuit of good governance in the Bureau of Customs. The numbers do not lie: As head of the Customs Reform Team, he has helped grow the Bureau’s collections by 21 percent year-on-year in 2014 versus 5 percent in the pre-reform period,” Purisima said.

He further noted that Sevilla transformed the bureau into “one of the most radically open and transparent agencies in government, has made government regulation more efficient for doing business in the country, and has taken great strides to thwart graft, technical and outright smuggling by filing cases, alert orders and seizures against erring importers, brokers, and officials.”

“I respect his well-discerned decision to resign. In a span of a year-and-a-half, he has shown us that what was then impossible is now possible. It is possible to hope that we can transform institutions with uncompromising courage and integrity,” Purisima said, adding that Sevilla has set the bar “extremely high” that his successor “will have big shoes to fill.”

Sevilla announced his resignation during a press conference on Thursday. He was appointed as Customs chief in December 2013, after serving as office-in-charge following the resignation of his predecessor, Ruffy Biazon.

During his term, Sevilla replaced a number of Customs commissioners and removed some customs collectors. He also continued the campaign against smugglers, filing cases against them. PND (ag)

President Aquino calls on youth to take advantage of ‘Pantawid Pamilya’ program
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday urged the country’s youth to strive hard and take advantage of government assistance to improve their lives.

In a speech delivered before more than 10,000 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) from the National Capital Region, President Aquino said the government has already channeled P232.2 billion into the program, which has given impoverished youths a chance to develop themselves.

“Sa araw na ito, pinipitas natin ang paunang bunga ng ating pagbabayanihan sa pamamagitan ng Pantawid Pamilya. Ipinagdiriwang natin ang pagtatapos ng 333,673 kabataang bumubuo sa kauna-unahang batch ng high school beneficiaries. Bahagi po sila ng halos 754,400 kabataan sa buong bansa na kasalukuyang nasasaklawan ng tulong ng programa para sa secondary education,” the President said during the second post-graduation event at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18.

“Nakatutok nga po ang inyong gobyerno sa pagpapalakas ng ating Pantawid Pamilya, upang mas marami pang Pilipino ang magkaroon ng kakayahang panghawakan ang kanilang kapalaran,” the President said.

“Ang hiling ko lang po sa ating mga graduate: Linangin pa ninyo ang inyong sarili sa abot ng inyong makakaya; pangalagaan ninyo ang kaalamang inyong natatamasa dahil sa pagkakataon at suportang ibinigay sa inyo ng Estado; payabungin pa ninyo ang inyong kasanayan para matulungan din ninyo ang inyong kapwa,” he said.

David Louie Manansala, who graduated valedictorian at Maligaya High School in Novaliches, also delivered a speech to inspire his fellow graduates.

Organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the event, which carried the theme “Pagtatapos Ninyo, Tagumpay ng Pilipino”, was aimed at recognizing the efforts of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries to fulfill their dreams of finishing high school.

The DSWD held the first post-graduation event at the Philippine International Convention Center last April 9 with 4,000 students.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Secretary Joel Villanueva and Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan attended the event to share their respective programs and services.

Also present were Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and National Youth Commission Chairman Gio Tingson. PND (jm)

Philippine Embassy in Malaysia to undertake Ambassador’s Tour to the Philippines in May
(KUALA LUMPUR) The Philippine Embassy here is set to undertake the 2nd Ambassador’s Tour to the Philippines early next month to promote the Philippines as a top tourist destination.

“On May 2 to 5, I will be escorting and bringing to Cebu and Bohol 120 Malaysian tourists. They are very excited,” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said on Wednesday during an interview with Radio TV Malacañang here.

Malaya said this initiative is part of their efforts to bring more Malaysian tourists to the Philippines and create excitement for the ‘Visit the Philippines Year.’

“We did it a year-and-a-half ago. We brought 112 Malaysians to Manila and toured them around Tagaytay, Villa Escudero, Intramuros, and all of those places,” he added.

Last March 30, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Proclamation No. 991, declaring 2015 as ‘Visit the Philippines Year’ as the country prepares to host this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

The proclamation stated that the APEC Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tourism Forum in 2016 would both promote the country as a host for meetings, conventions and exhibitions in the Asia Pacific.

Noting a “dramatic growth” in Malaysian tourist arrivals in the Philippines, the envoy said that the number of Malaysians visiting the country increased by 27 percent last year.

The Philippine Embassy in Malaysia initiated the Ambassador’s Tour to the Philippines in 2013.

The tour is a joint undertaking of the Embassy of the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur, and the Department of Tourism. PND (co)

Philippines taking proactive approach in enhancing relations with Malaysia
(KUALA LUMPUR) The Philippines has been taking a proactive approach to further enhance its bilateral relations with Malaysia, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said Wednesday.

Ambassador Malaya said bilateral relations between the Philippines and Malaysia are deep and longstanding, as the two countries are neighbors and are partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“To us, it is very important that we do proactive work in enhancing bilateral relations,” he said during an interview with Radio TV Malacañang here.

“And by the exchange of visits that we have had with Malaysia, it is underscoring the vibrancy of this bilateral partnership. Also, we have been able to have breakthroughs in a number of sectors,” he added.

Malaya cited exchanges of high-level visits in recent years, notably the official visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in October 2012, the state visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to Kuala Lumpur in February 2014, and the working visit of Prime Minister Najib to Manila in March 2014.

During President Aquino’s visit to Malaysia last year, the Philippines and Malaysia signed two agreements: a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of education; and an agreement on culture, arts and heritage cooperation.

Malaya described the cooperation on education between the two countries as “very significant” as it allowed them to pursue alternative education for Filipino children in Sabah who had no access to public schools.

Under the agreement, both countries will cooperate on school and institutional linkages, teacher education and training, educational assessment, planning and research, technical vocational education, and curriculum design and development.

“The cooperation in education is very significant because it has allowed us a platform by which we can pursue our alternative education for Filipino children in Sabah, who, because of the undocumented status of the parents and of themselves, have no access to local schools,” Malaya explained.

“They can’t enroll in local schools, and to me, as an ambassador, that is a big concern. So we made it a priority to work on this area by pursuing this unique initiative of undertaking alternative education for the children, and also by engaging the local authorities in this particular field of education,” the envoy added.

Malaya said there are seven alternative learning centers (ALCs) in Sabah where some 2,100 Filipino children are enrolled.

President Aquino is scheduled to join his fellow Southeast Asia leaders in the 26th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings to be held in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, Malaysia on April 26 to 28. PND (co)

President Aquino presents awards to outstanding investors
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday presented awards to outstanding investors during the 20th anniversary of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

President Aquino and PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima gave the Outstanding Exporters Award to House Technology Industries Pte. Ltd.; and JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. Global Service Center. This award is for investors who have attained a total export value of at least US$500 million for export enterprise and US$250 million for Information Technology enterprise.

They also presented the Outstanding Employers Award to On Semiconductor Philippines, Inc.; Astec Power Philippines, Inc.; Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing, Inc.; and Texas Instruments (TI) Philippines, Inc. This award is granted to investors who have generated the most number of jobs and have enhanced the welfare of their workers.

The Outstanding Community Projects Award went to Accenture, Inc.; Sunpower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd.; and Analog Devices Gen. Trias, Inc. This award is presented to investors who have strengthened their relationship with the community through such meaningful projects as scholarship programs, free medical and dental services, tree planting, gift giving, and similar pro-community projects.

The Outstanding Environmental Performers Award, which is given to investors who have institutionalized their environmental management system and complied with environmental regulations, went to ST Microelectronic, Inc.; Pilipinas Kao, Inc.; and Continental Temic Electronic (Philippines), Inc.

The Hall of Fame Awards — given to three-time winners of the awards for outstanding exporter, employer, community project, and environmental performer — went to Samsung Electro-Mechanics Philippines Corp., and Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. for the Outstanding Exporters Award; Rohm Electronics Philippines, Inc. for the Outstanding Employers Award; and JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. for the Outstanding Community Project Award.

The Billionaires Award was presented to Texas Instruments (Philippines), Inc. for achieving an export value of at least US$2.5 billion in any given year.

The PEZA Golden Achievement Award, the most prestigious award given to the company that has been elevated to the Hall of Fame in all four categories, went to Amkor Technology Philippines, Inc.

An attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, the PEZA is tasked to promote investments, extend assistance, register, grant incentives, and facilitate the business operations of investors in export-oriented manufacturing and service facilities.

Also present during the ceremony were Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Secretary Joel Villanueva, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. PND (ag)

President Aquino appoints Alberto Lina as Customs Chief
President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Alberto Lina back to his former post as Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner.

“He (Lina) replaces John Phillip Sevilla whose resignation has been accepted. The new Commissioner also served as Customs Commissioner in the previous administration,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.

Lina was Customs chief for five months during the term of former President, now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He tendered his resignation at the height of the “Hello Garci” controversy.

He chairs the Board of the Lina Group of Companies, which includes Airfreight 2100 Inc. or Air 21. PND (ag)