23 May 2015

APEC Business Advisory Council lays down agenda for this year’s APEC discussions
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has spelled out initiatives that it is pushing for this year’s APEC discussions.

In a press briefing on Friday, Doris Magsaysay-Ho, the ABAC 2015 chair, said that one of the areas that they are pushing this year is trade in services agenda.

“We’ve been working with senior officials, and the chair of Senior Officials Meeting, ambassador Laura Del Rosario,” Magsaysay-Ho told reporters, adding ABAC has also been working with the PECC on a series of public-private dialogues on trade in services.

She said they have just concluded talks last week, the first one was about Internet economy, and digital trade. The last talks focused on supply chains in manufacturing, environmental services, and agriculture.

“So the trade in services to me offers an amazing opportunity for inclusive growth,” she said noting today’s consumers demand different kinds of services because of urbanization.

Urbanization creates new risks that businesses seize to make profit, while at the same time build resilient cities, according to Magsaysay-Ho.

Another focus is on global data standard, she said. She added ABAC is looking at certain sectors on how they can ensure well-developed connectivity across APEC.

Another one is an infrastructure checklist, she said. This is to make sure that those who participate in infrastructure development, which is a huge requirement, follow acceptable standards across the region.

“We are working on a sustainability agenda to make sure we have food security, energy security, that we have livable cities, a healthy workforce, and healthy women in the workforce,” she noted.

ABAC also has a very robust finance agenda aligned with the finance department’s Cebu Action Agenda for Finance, which include all levels of financial inclusion, including SMEs.

Magsaysay-Ho added that ABAC is also excited about the Free Trade Area in the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

She said there are lot of new emerging business models arising so ABAC wants to be sure that the FTAAP considers those new models.

“And also I want to ensure that the FTAAP is relevant to the SMEs as well,” she said. PND (as)

APEC Trade ministers to start work on Asia-Pacific free trade pact
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Trade ministers from the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum will start laying the groundwork for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) as they aim to speed up the economic integration process in the region.

Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo said the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting slated here on May 23 to 24 will focus on the regional economic integration, among other main areas.

Domingo, who is also APEC 2015 MRT Chair, said APEC trade ministers will come out with the terms of reference (TOR) for the study on FTAAP this year.

“So that’s what is being finalized… the study will be started in 2016,” he said during the pre-MRT press briefing on Friday.

Domingo said they will also discuss efforts in line with the achievement of the Bogor Goals aimed at enhancing the regional economic integration agenda, support for the multilateral trading system and fostering participation of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in regional and global markets.

For her part, Doris Magsaysay Ho, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) 2015 Chair, said that APEC also wants to ensure that the FTAAP is relevant to the MSMEs.

“There are a lot of emerging new generation business models arising so we want to be sure that the FTAAP actually considers them,” she said in another press briefing. PNA (ldv)

Philippines urges APEC to expand trade, investment to reduce poverty
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan — The Philippines has called on other member economies from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to further expand trade and investment which is crucial in supporting inclusive growth and poverty reduction across the region.

At the opening Saturday of the two-day APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting here, Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo noted that APEC needs to take significant strides towards achieving this goal being an important regional bloc and a major player in international trade.

Domingo identified inequality and poverty as still the biggest challenges to APEC economies.

“But over the past 50 years, trade has proven to be a powerful engine of growth. Thus, we need to expand trade and investment and encourage economic dynamism to achieve strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth,” he said.

Domingo, also APEC 2015 MRT Chair, said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in poverty alleviation and for long-term growth of APEC economies and the entire region.

SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region.

The trade official thus underscored the need to bolster the abilities of the SMEs to take advantage of cross border business opportunities that will boost APEC economies.

“Let us note that recognizing the diverse characters and different capacities of SMEs is an important parameter in pursuing interventions that are reflective of and responsive to their needs,” he added.

At their meeting, APEC trade ministers will work towards the possible adoption of the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) outlining Philippine priorities on continuing initiatives that will contribute to fostering the MSMEs participation in regional and global markets.

The MRT meeting will also focus on two other main areas –support for the multilateral trading system and the regional economic integration which is a continuing agenda in APEC.

The Philippines is hosting 31 APEC meetings all over the country this year, and has adopted the theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” PNA ldv

Expert says trade liberalization must consider needs of business community
BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan: Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies negotiating for the Free Trade Area in the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) must get the design right for regional businesses to use the new liberalization regime, an expert said on Friday.

In a press briefing, Eduardo Pedrosa, the Secretary General of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), shared a survey they conducted among businesses, policy makers and members of the academe about the current trade and business growth in the Asia Pacific.

Pedrosa said those discussing the design of the FTAAP must take into account how global value chains operate.

“In short, the way I interpret it, you need to get the FTAAP right. There’s no point in having yet another trade agreement that doesn’t address the concerns of the business communities in our region,” Pedrosa said.

The other thing that’s very important in the Asia Pacific is capacity building considering that there is a mixture of advanced economies as well as developing economies in the region.

Pedrosa highlighted the views of respondents from Southeast Asia who thought that building capacity for developing economy is the most important thing that APEC has to consider with regards to the FTAAP completion.

Having a closer look at the existing trade agreements, Pedrosa said the economic literature shows low utilization of the existing FTAs. The estimate ranges from as low as 10, 15 percent to as high as around 40 percent, he said.

“So by no means all businesses are using these trade agreements and what they tell us is that the compliant cost of using the agreements is extremely high because of the rules of origin,” he explained.

And the costs impact on small and medium and micro enterprises. So even though e-commerce may allow the SMEs to enter into another market, with the preferential rate, if they can’t comply with the rules of origin there’s no point talking about it, he said.

“So were emphasizing the importance of getting the design of the FTAAP right,” he stressed.

Asia-Pacific leaders who met in China last year agreed to move towards a new free trade zone strongly backed by Beijing. They agreed to launch a study into the FTAAP. PND (as)