10 November 2015


Things to know about APEC initiatives in the energy sector
Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) member economies will gather in Manila on November 18 to 19 to adopt various initiatives from ministerial meetings.

One of the key ministerial meetings held in the lead-up to the APEC 2015 Summit was the 12th Energy Ministers’ Meeting (EMM) that was convened last month in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

During the EMM, it was stressed that sustainable energy is a vital component of the Asia Pacific’s economic growth.

Here are some facts on the APEC’s energy sector:

1. Economic growth means higher energy demand.

The expansion of economic activities in the region would require more energy to continue business operations.

Since the forum’s establishment, the gross domestic product (GDP) of APEC economies doubled from US$16 trillion in 1989 to US$31 trillion in 2013.

Based on forecasts of the International Monetary Fund, the APEC region’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.2 percent in the 2015 to 2016 period, with China and the Philippines leading the economic growth with a GDP growth of 6.3 percent.

On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects energy demand in the Asia Pacific to grow by 3.2 percent in 2015 and 2016 compared to a 2.9 percent increase in 2014.

Between now and 2030, energy demand in the APEC region is expected to double.

2. Energy production could hardly meet the higher demand.

The region’s 2.8 billion population accounts for 60 percent of the global energy consumption.

However, the region’s share in global energy production is only at 55 percent.

3. There is a need to shift to clean power sources.

The APEC is pushing for a sustainable energy sector by doubling the capacity of renewable energy by 2030 and resorting to energy sources other than coal.

If the region fails to tap other sources of energy, the APEC is likely to be heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, which are estimated to account for 70 percent of the total energy capacity in the next 15 years. This would contribute to further global warming and will not mitigate climate change.

The forum also recognizes the importance of the safe and efficient development of civil nuclear power as an option to produce clean, high-quality and advanced modern energy, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide.

The APEC economies that are using nuclear energy are Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, while Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam are looking into adopting nuclear resources as part of energy generation.

4. The region’s energy sector needs to become resilient.

Aside from shifting to clean energy, APEC member economies also target to increase investments in power facilities that can withstand extreme conditions given the threats of climate change.

This means advancing cutting-edge energy-efficient technologies and promoting resilient energy infrastructure by improving trade and investments in the sector. This is in line with the forum’s goal of reducing power intensity by 45 percent in 2035.

5. Better policies attract energy investments.

Recognizing the crucial role of the energy sector in the APEC, governments in the Asia Pacific are urged to institutionalize better investment policies to attract energy projects in the region.

During the EMM in Cebu, Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg noted that better policies on taxes, workplace relations, and investment regulations should be in place in each APEC member economy to attract energy projects — whether in research and development, new technologies, or new facilities.

Frydenberg added that it is an opportune time to invest in the energy sector, given the lower prices of oil and gas.

According to the ADB, the Asia-Pacific region requires an investment of US$7 trillion to US$9.7 trillion in the energy sector from 2005 to 2030.

Energy ministers came up with the Cebu Ministerial Declaration and Instructions, which will be presented during the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting next week.

The Cebu Ministerial Declaration and Instructions tapped key areas including climate-proofing energy infrastructure, improving energy trade and investment in the APEC, advancing cutting-edge energy-efficient technologies, and promoting community-based clean energy use in poverty-stricken areas to ensure energy security, sustainability, and resiliency in the region. PNA (kc)

President Aquino receives Chinese Foreign Minister in Malacañang
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malacañang on Tuesday.Minister Wang was accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, when he paid a courtesy call on President Aquino at the Palace’s President’s Hall.

The Chinese foreign minister is on a working visit to the Philippines at the invitation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Joining the President in welcoming Wang were del Rosario, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. PND (jm)

APEC business group wants resumption of World Trade Organization talks
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) seeks the resumption of the stalled World Trade Organization (WTO) talks.

Doris Magsaysay-Ho, who chairs the ABAC 2015, said this is part of the 23 recommendations the council will present to the leaders of the 21 APEC member economies when they meet next week.

“The ABAC supports the multilateral trading system,” Magsaysay-Ho said.

As a rules-based, transparent, and non-discriminatory global trading system, the WTO remains to be the best option to counter protectionism, the ABAC said in its recommendations.

“The ABAC urges the early implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement by the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December this year. The ABAC calls on APEC economies to lead in seeking to reinvigorate and conclude the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations,” it said.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement seeks to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, seeking cooperation, mostly with customs authorities.

Negotiations in the WTO’s Doha Round, which seeks to lower trade barriers around the world and thus facilitate increased global trade, were stalled after a breakdown in talks in 2008 over agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies between developed and developing nations.

Since the breakdown of talks, there have been repeated attempts to revive them.

At the same time, the ABAC wants APEC leaders to support the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations, for the further liberalization of trade in services.

“Identifying and addressing non-tariff barriers that inhibit access to markets, including finding practical ways to engage and empower business to take the lead in these efforts” are important, said the business leaders of the APEC economies.

Magsaysay-Ho conceded that the Trade in Services Agreement is particularly problematic because it involves the movement of people across borders. She however said services are the next big thing in world trade.

The ABAC also supports the consensus reached by 54 WTO members on the expansion of the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement, which seeks to completely eliminate duties on IT products covered by the Agreement.

The APEC business groups “strongly urge APEC economies which are participating in the negotiations to lead the final conclusion of the said negotiations without delay”, the council said in its recommendations. (PCOO-APEC Communications Group)

APEC to hold first Small, Medium Enterprise Summit in the Philippines
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has partnered with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to hold the first Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Summit in Makati City on November 17.

To be held during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week (AELW), the APEC SME Summit will carry the theme, “Innovation and Big Ideas: Pushing Boundaries”, aiming to challenge the traditional framework and mindset of micro and SMEs to further innovate their businesses.

About 1,500 delegates, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the Asia Pacific, government officials, ABAC members, business organizations, and business students are expected to participate in the event.

The APEC SME Summit will present exhibits and talks featuring leaders of successful enterprises in the region, particularly those with innovative and disruptive business models.

Among the APEC region’s business leaders who will share innovation insights, experiences, and inspiring stories are AirAsia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes, Care.com Founder and CEO Sheila Marcelo, and Xurpas, Inc. President and CEO Nix Nolledo.

President Benigno S. Aquino III will also grace the APEC SME Summit as keynote speaker.

Target outcomes of the summit are innovation partnerships between and among SMEs and innovators, a network of APEC SME entrepreneurs and practitioners in the innovation space, documentation of inspiring stories, and recognition of successful SME innovators with transformative solutions and ideas.

The APEC SME Summit is part of the forum’s initiative to increase the participation of MSMEs in the global value chain.

The sector, the engine of growth and innovation in the APEC, comprises more than 97 percent of enterprises in the region, and more than half of the total workforce in APEC member economies. It also has a 20 percent to 50 percent share of the region’s gross domestic product, and contributes up to 35 percent of direct exports. PNA (kc)

President Aquino inspects NAIA terminals, APEC meeting venues
President Benigno S. Aquino III conducted an inspection Tuesday of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation venues next week as well as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals which will be used by APEC delegates when they arrive for the summit.

Among the venues inspected by the President include the Philippine International Convention Center meeting venues, MOA Arena, and NAIA terminals 1, 2, and 3 where APEC delegates will arrive and depart.

The President also inspected the Kalayaan hangar area of the Villamor Air Base, which will be used by some of the leaders.

He was accompanied by Cabinet members led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., the chairperson of the APEC national organizing committee.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) conducted a dry run of the APEC special lane in EDSA on Monday simulating the transport of APEC delegates as well as ensuring tight security.

The country will host the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting from November 17 to 20. PND (as)