20 November 2015


APEC leaders’ spouses treated to a tour of Intramuros by President’s sisters
(MANILA) While the leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies converged at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) here for the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Thursday, their spouses were treated to a tour around the historic walled city of Intramuros by the sisters of President Benigno S. Aquino III and tourism officials.

Arriving at the heart of Manila, the spouses were welcomed by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and the President’s sisters Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz, Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Abellada, Victoria Elisa “Viel” Dee, and Kristina Bernadette “Kris” Aquino.

Since the Philippine leader is a bachelor, the responsibility of playing host to the APEC leaders’ spouses fell on the lap of his sisters.

Among those who attended were the spouses of the leaders of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

Aside from providing a historical tour, the presidential sisters wanted to display the trademark hospitality of Filipinos.

“We really wanted to make sure that everybody who visits the Philippines will go home with a positive impression of all Filipinos,” said Kris, the president’s youngest sister.

The first stop was Fort Santiago, where they witnessed a traditional wedding preparation and celebration, highlighting the cheerful and lively Filipino spirit.

About 200 performers from Ramon Obusan, Dulaang UP, Tanghalang Filipno, and University of the East dance group merged to present music and dances from the Spanish colonial era.

Afterwards, the spouses, together with the president’s sisters and other delegates, had a photo session or family picture taken at the second gate of the fort.

The spouses were then divided into two groups and rode electronic jeepneys to reach their assigned destinations. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s spouse left early for the airport since their country will be hosting the 27th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

One group proceeded to Casa Manila, where scenes of the mundane existence of a Filipino family during the Spanish colonial era were recreated.

The other group headed to the nearby San Agustin Church, where the Hail Mary, The Queen Choir, composed of children, sang religious and Spanish songs. Outside, traditional carrozas (carriages) moved along the cobblestone path for the spouses to see.

They were all reunited at the Ayuntamiento de Manila to have the culminating festivities and luncheon hosted by the sisters.

Complementing the luncheon was a 20-minute program with a roster of performers, including singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid, athlete and singer Matteo Guidicelli, and balladeers Erik Santos and Angeline Quinto.

When asked about the response of the spouses, said, Nestor Jardin of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, overall artistic director of the spouses’ program. “They’ve been overwhelmed by the Filipino hospitality as well as the talent that the Filipino artists and craftsmen have showcased.”

“We’re very happy that we got very good feedback from the delegates and from the leaders,” he added. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

APEC condemns all forms of terror
(MANILA) Amid the shadow cast by recent deadly attacks against Russia and France supposedly perpetrated by the Islamic State terrorist organization known as ISIS, the leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies strongly condemned on Thursday all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism in all their forms and manifestations

In their official declaration issued following their talks in Manila, the APEC leaders said they will not “allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies”.

“Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization. We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism,” the APEC leaders said as they went beyond the recommendations made by APEC ministers, the result of dialogues conducted throughout the year among APEC senior officials and various committees.

The leaders’ declaration normally draws from that of the ministers, who in turn draw from that of senior officials. The terror attacks have however weighed heavily on the APEC, causing increased security measures for the international event.

The APEC leaders, who gathered in Manila this week for the 2015 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, specifically called for the full implementation of the APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy.

They called for continued individual and collective actions, as well as sharing of best practices, in securing infrastructure, travel, supply chains, and financial systems from acts of terrorism.

“Under the shadow cast by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against Russian aircraft over the Sinai, and elsewhere, we strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism in all their forms and manifestations,” the leaders said in the declaration.

“We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies,” they added.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on APEC for a coordinated fight against terrorism, saying it is a “challenge to the whole civilized world”.

Terrorism is “not a crime against one country. It is a crime against the whole world,” said Medvedev, who attended the APEC Summit on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Terror attacks, such as those against a Russian aircraft that killed 224 passengers, are an area of cooperation that the APEC should engage in, Medvedev said.

On October 31, a 1-kilogram TNT bomb planted on a Russian A321 airliner killed all 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists going home after spending their holidays in Egypt.

On November 12, dual suicide bombings took more than 40 lives in Beirut, Lebanon.

On November 13, seven coordinated terror attacks in Paris killed at least 129 people. Attacks were at the Stade de France during a friendly football match between France and Germany; the Petit Cambodge Cambodian restaurant and the Le Carillon bar; the Casa Nostra pizzeria; the La Belle Equipe bar; the Bataclan concert venue; and the McDonald’s restaurant on the fringes of the stadium.

The ISIS claimed responsibility for all three attacks. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

Global economic power shift to Asia Pacific offers growth opportunities for small, medium businesses
The Philippines and other Asia-Pacific economies need to work together to create an environment that fosters the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in overseas markets, in a bid to seize new growth opportunities as the global economic power shifts towards the region.

Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) 2015, Doris Magsaysay-Ho, identified the shift in economic power among the “global megatrends” that are creating new challenges for APEC economies and businesses.

Magsaysay-Ho also noted the demographic and social change, with global population hitting 8 billion by 2025.

“These same global megatrends offer new growth opportunities, especially for SMEs. We must promote inclusive business models,” she said during the opening of the 2015 ABAC dialogue with APEC economic leaders.

Magsaysay-Ho underscored the important role of electronic commerce in the internationalization of SMEs.

“The greatest driver of economic growth is innovation. And unconstrained by large fixed assets, SMEs are better positioned to understand new customer expectations and create transformational business models through innovation,” she added.

The ABAC chair said it is thus imperative for APEC economies to commit to developing their prospective innovation and digital plans.

“Fifty years ago, the life expectancy of Fortune 500 Companies was 75 years. Today, it is less than 15. Clearly, an APEC-wide plan is also needed or we will be left out of future growth,” she said.

Magsaysay-Ho further said the ABAC, together with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and ABAC Canada, is launching an interactive mapping of incubators that would allow startups to network and venture capitals to find startups to support.

She also urged APEC economies to adopt policies to promote trade and services, ratify the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) and commence steps on rapid implementation of their TFA commitments, as well as accelerate investments in resilient infrastructure.

Moreover, Magsaysay-Ho identified other global megatrends shaping the future, which are the unprecedented rise in urbanization, and climate change and resource scarcity amid growing population and middle class.

”Excellencies, these megatrends are bringing challenges and new opportunities. More than ever, we need to come together for collective action towards greater regional economic integration to achieve our shared vision of a secure, stable and prosperous region for everyone through inclusive, quality and sustainable growth,” she said. PNA (ldv)

Japan recognizes closer ties with the Philippines
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday recognized the relationship between his country and the Philippines, which he said has become closer through the years.“In recent years, the cooperation between Japan and the Philippines has become ever closer. We are most happy to have a welcome to President Aquino last June as state guest of Japan; and here I am in the Philippines less than six months since.

These mutual visits (will) surely further reinforce the bond between our two nations,” he said in a statement during a joint press conference following his bilateral meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.

The Japanese leader said that during his meeting with President Aquino, they reaffirmed the progress of their bilateral ties on defense, infrastructure development, agribusiness and social security.

“While President Aquino had already offered his kind support of the legislation for peace and security, I take this opportunity to reiterate the position of Japan to make further contributions to the peace and stability of the region and other global communities through our policy of proactive contribution to peace,” said Prime Minister Abe.

“We welcomed the agreement in principle on transfer of defense equipment and agreed to work together for the early signing of agreement and realization of cooperation in defense equipment. There was a request from President Aquino regarding the provision of large patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard and Japan would like to consider the specifics of the matter.”

Agreements on infrastructure development and social security were signed during the bilateral meeting.

“In the area of infrastructure development, the agreement on the project for the North-South Commuter Railway has just been signed and I also told the President that a full study towards realization of a subway project would be launched,” he further said.

“The Social Security Agreement shall resolve the problem of double enrolment in pension plans by expatriates and we welcome its signing, which has just taken place. To enable the people of the Philippines to offer housework support services in Japan’s special terms, both sides have agreed to work to establish the necessary mechanisms by the end of this year,” he added.

Prime Minister Abe said Japan will also provide approximately 15 billion yen to support the agribusiness promotion project in Mindanao.

“The President and I also had a candid exchange of views on regional peace and stability. We shared deep concerns over unilateral actions to change the status quo, such as the large-scale land reclamation and building of outpost in the South China Sea. At the same time, we confirmed the importance of partnership in the global community based on the rule of law to protect open, free and peaceful seas,” he said.

“Regarding the arbitration between the Philippines and China, which has entered into a new stage, we reiterated our position to continue to support dispute resolution based on international law,” he added.

Prime Minister Abe also recognized the strong leadership of President Aquino for the successful hosting of this year’s APEC.

“May I extend my congratulations to the success of the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and my deepest respect to President Aquino for your strong leadership that has guided the series of meetings to a great success,” he said.

With regards to the recent terrorist attacks in France, the Japanese head of state said, “The terrorist attack in Paris on the 13th of this month was an outright defiance of the common values we uphold and tried to protect. We are united with the international community and strongly condemn such hideous act.”

Meanwhile, he said the scheduled visit to the Philippines of the Japanese Emperor and Empress early next year “will be an auspicious event to mark the opening of a series of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations between our two nations”.

“We look very much forward to cooperating closely with the Philippines to make Their Majesties’ visit a great success. It will be a gesture of new impetus for our friendship and I look forward to working further with the Philippines to make further contributions to the stability and prosperity of the region and of the world,” Prime Minister Abe added. PND (jm)

Philippines, Japan ink agreements on rail project, social security
The Philippines and Japan signed two agreements following the bilateral meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Sofitel Hotel on Thursday.The first agreement was on social security, which aims to coordinate pension programs for people who live and work in the Philippines and Japan.

Under the agreement, signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa, those covered by social security systems will continue to receive benefit, whether they are residing in the Philippines, Japan or even in other countries.

The agreement aims to solve the problem of double payments and further facilitate people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The two governments then exchanged notes on the North-South Commuter Railway Project from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila.

The railway project, worth approximately US$2 billion, aims to improve land transportation capacity in Metro Manila and provide a more environmentally sustainable mode of transport from Malolos to Tutuban.

In his statement following the meeting, President Aquino said his meeting with Prime Minister Abe “was extremely productive”, as he has expected.

He cited the “substantial progress“ the two countries have made in implementing the Joint Declaration for a Strengthened Strategic Partnership and its Action Plan since the President’s visit to Japan last June.

“During our meeting, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the deepening of the Strategic Partnership. In fact, we have taken a significant step forward in enhancing our defense and security relations by agreeing in principle on the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, and we are hopeful that we can conclude and sign this Agreement sooner rather than later,” he said.

President Aquino and Prime Minister Abe also pledged to further boost economic cooperation for the benefit and progress of the peoples of the two countries and the greater region.

The Chief Executive then thanked Prime Minister Abe for Japan’s assistance to the government’s efforts to attain enduring peace and long-term progress in Mindanao through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD II) program that seeks to promote capacity building for economic autonomy.

President Aquino noted that the 60th anniversary of Philippine-Japanese relations next year will be highlighted by the visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in January.

He told his Japanese counterpart about his eagerness to reciprocate the warm and generous hospitality extended to him during his last visit to Japan. PND (jb)

Police to file charges against APEC protesters
(MANILA) The Philippine National Police (PNP) will file charges against a group of protesters who were able to march toward the venues for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said Thursday.

“Some of our policemen were injured despite their adherence to the maximum tolerance policy and they were still provoked. (These) people caused injuries and harm to our people. Definitely, it is just right to file legal charges against them,” he told reporters during a press briefing at the International Media Center at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

He also defended the use of water cannons to “cool down” protesters.

Protesters from leftist groups on Thursday morning were able to march on Buendia and Roxas Boulevard near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), where the APEC leaders were meeting.

However, police forces were able to stop the protesters from going near the PICC and the World Trade Center, where the International Media Center is located, by firing water cannons at the group.

Mayor said the cannons were “not pressurized to hit or cause injuries”.

“Basically, the intention is to cool down emotions that everybody is experiencing now,” he added.

Aside from the presence of world leaders, particularly US President Barack Obama, Bayan Muna was also protesting the gridlock caused by holding the APEC Summit in Manila that bothered ordinary citizens, whose economic activities were all halted because of road closures around the metro.

But Mayor noted that the PNP was asked to only use “reasonable force if necessary”.

“(We will use) maximum restraint and maximum tolerance, especially in this kind of confrontation. Maximum tolerance pertains to the policemen’s attitude or behavior of policemen to this kind of situation,” he added.

“Policemen should have the particular highest degree of patience, so as not to be provoked by these protesters.”

Mayor declined to identify the groups behind the protests, but said they would be named after the situation calms down.

He said there was already a negotiation between the PNP and the protesters, even before the APEC meeting, but the groups still opted to push through with the protest.

Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Manila asked the Philippine government to stop possible protests against President Xi Jinping, who is in Manila for the APEC summit.

Protests against the Chinese Embassy have been held in the past because of China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

President Aquino: Sustaining quality growth, domestic challenges are APEC’s major challenges
Finding a way to sustain and strengthen quality growth, particularly by considering policy responses that promote inclusivity, while addressing domestic and external challenges to the growth of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are the grouping’s major challenges, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday.“It is undeniable that factors outside trade will influence economic growth, and our discussions must be able to identify and define the foundations for sustained and quality growth beyond 2020,” the President said as he opened Retreat I of the 23rd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

The economic bloc, he added, must also lay out what needs to be done to widen social inclusion, and strengthen institution building and environmental responsibility.

“Today, we shall assess where we are, and decide where we want to go, so that we can plan how to get there,” he told fellow APEC leaders.

“Together, we can write a growth story with a vision of economic prosperity and interconnectedness felt at all levels. As regional economic integration continues to take form, APEC’s role – when viewed through the prism of inclusive growth – will be defined not only according to the future of economies but also of the people that drive economic growth.”

Nearly two decades since the country’s hosting in 1996, the APEC returns to the Philippines in a milestone year, not just for the Asia Pacific, but for the world, the President said.

This year, he said, the APEC is five years away from the Bogor Goals 2020 and the grouping marks the end of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and the beginning of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries meeting for the Conference of Parties or COP 21 in Paris also hopes to make a lasting impact on climate change, and the APEC hopes to advance the implementation of the Bali Package at the World Trade Organization Conference 10 in Kenya, he added.

The Manila meeting, he said, is certainly an opportune time for APEC member economies to reflect on how to move into the future.

“This APEC hosting also presents the chance for the Philippines to showcase the results of reform,” the President said, citing the country’s strong economic growth that resulted from good governance and critical structural reforms in the bureaucracy, as well as people support.

“Furthermore, we are proud of our growth not just for growth’s sake, but because the Philippines has set aside trickle down economics and chosen to invest in our people so that our growth is felt by each and every citizen,” he noted.

“We threw our full support behind programs such as our conditional cash transfer program, training for work scholarships, and a universal health care program, all of which help our people regain control of their own destinies.”

President Aquino further said that the Philippines’ approach to APEC has always been guided by the common aspiration for prosperity in the Asia Pacific prosperity.

Building on APEC’s achievements over the past generation, he said, the Philippines is hosting the APEC with a people-centered agenda that embraces all segments of society as invaluable participants in a growth that is holistic.

“In short, growth that balances the pressing needs of the present with our shared mission of leaving behind a region and a world that is better than we found it,” President Aquino said, expressing hope that this year’s Retreat will become “an incubator for ideas that improve our region’s prospects for the future”. PND (as)

APEC leaders adopt Philippine-led initiative on micro, small, medium enterprises
(MANILA) The leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies on Thursday adopted the Philippine-led initiative that aims to put micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at the forefront of regional and global trade by 2020.

In their 2015 APEC Leaders’ Declaration issued following their retreat, the APEC leaders ordered their respective Ministers to implement actions laid out in the Boracay Action Agenda and report their progress to them by 2020.

“We live in a connected world in which many goods and services are no longer produced in one location but are the result of firms cooperating within and across our borders,” they said in their declaration.

By adopting the agenda created in Cebu by Trade Ministers, the APEC leaders expressed their belief that this action will benefit consumers, create jobs, and foster development.

“We need all our businesses, regardless of size, to connect to where opportunities exist,” the leaders said.

Aside from establishing connection within and across neighboring countries, the 21 economies also plan to develop policies that take “full advantage of global value chains (GVC) and encourage greater participation and added value” for MSMEs.

They will also promote competition, entrepreneurship, and innovation through “balanced intellectual property (IP) systems and capacity building”.

The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs is an action-oriented initiative that supports the APEC’s ongoing work to address the barriers faced by MSMEs in international trade.

Through the agenda, member economies will facilitate micro and small enterprises’ access to regional and global markets in the identified priority areas for cooperation and action on trade facilitation, e-commerce, financing and institutional support, including for women-led MSMEs.

The APEC leaders also decided to adopt the Services Cooperation Framework to ensure that all the country’s citizens benefit from and contribute to high quality growth.

“We instruct our officials to develop a strategic and long-term Services Competitiveness Roadmap in 2016 with the adoption of a concerted set of actions and mutually agreed targets to be achieved by 2025. We appreciate services-related initiatives, such as manufacturing-related services,” they said in the declaration. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

Philippines seeks expansion of economic ties with New Zealand
President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his desire to enhance the bonds of friendship and economic cooperation between the Philippines and New Zealand, during his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister John Key on Thursday.Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that while the two leaders noted the expanding bilateral trade between the Philippines and New Zealand, President Aquino asked to further improve it by focusing on areas, such as electronics, and public-private partnerships (PPP).

“The two leaders noted that bilateral trade between the Philippines and New Zealand increased by 6.4 percent to $553 million in 2014 while investments from New Zealand approved by Philippine investment promotion agencies increased significantly by 71 percent in the same year,” Secretary Coloma said following the bilateral meeting between the two heads of state.

“President Aquino said the Philippines wishes to expand economic cooperation in the areas of electronics and electrical equipment, automotive parts, IT-BPM and engineering services, and infrastructure and PPP projects,” he added.

Coloma said the President told Prime Minister Key that the Philippines is planning to launch intensive stakeholder consultations to address potential challenges and prepare specific sectors to optimize opportunities presented by the eventual flourishing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

President Aquino likewise expressed hope that New Zealand would support the Philippines’ possible accession to TPP.

On climate change, Coloma said both leaders expressed their shared hopes that a universal and binding climate change agreement would be reached during the COP21 meeting in Paris this December.

The Palace official said President Aquino acknowledged the significant contribution of approximately 40,000 Filipinos to New Zealand’s economic development.

“He welcomed the signing of the arrangement on the principles and controls on the recruitment and protection of Filipino workers in New Zealand, as this will be instrumental in ensuring the welfare of our workers,” he said.

Coloma said President Aquino also took the opportunity to thank Key for the assistance New Zealand has given the Philippines in the fields of education, disaster management, and dairy industries.

The President thanked New Zealand for extending scholarship grants to Filipinos in the field of geothermal energy, he said, noting that the scholars are currently contributing to the Department of Energy’s renewable energy development program.

President Aquino likewise expressed appreciation for New Zealand’s assistance in the development of the Philippine dairy industry through the establishment of focus farms and infusion of dairy animals.

President Aquino said he hopes the project could be expanded to bolster the development of the country’s dairy industry.

The President also thanked Key for New Zealand’s support for the country’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts through its assistance for a capacity building program for cities and municipalities (Project Rebuild) and contributions to the Philippine Red Cross.

President Aquino reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to uphold the Memorandum of Agreement on Defense Cooperation, which was signed during his state visit to New Zealand in October 2012.

Coloma said the Chief Executive thanked New Zealand for supporting the professional development of Philippine military personnel.

President Aquino and Prime Minister Key shared a light moment when the President congratulated New Zealand for the victory of the All Blacks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. PND (jb)

APEC 2015 chief organizer reports successful summit hosting
The Philippine government’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 summit has been a success, with the meeting agenda successfully concluded and approved by the leaders, the head of the government body that took charge of the Philippine hosting has said.

“In any hosting of a multilateral meeting, the fact that the meeting progresses without any major hitches or no major contentious issues, it is already considered a success,” Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Jr., Director General of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Council, said during a press conference on Thursday.

“I think, even more so now… many of our objectives were actually realized,” he said.

First, Paynor said, was the idea of inclusive growth.

“Most of the economies agreed that inclusive growth is, in fact, something that all of us can agree to,” he said.

Second is the globalization of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise 90 percent of total manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, he said.

Third is providing MSMEs financing and education as to how to manage their businesses, and fourth is sustainable communities, he said, explaining that when APEC members grow and help communities, they should be able to sustain themselves.

And the only way that they can grow is by having trade and manufacturing concerns addressed by the regional trade bloc, he added.

Paynor however said a lot more work need to be done.

He cited as an example “the very, very low rate” of ease of doing business in the Philippines, where it still takes 25 days to establish or register a business, compared to only a few days in other countries.

“On that particular aspect, I think we need to do something about it. In any case, when the policies are set, the rest is up to us now to work on these things so that in the end, we all benefit from it,” Paynor said.

On the numerous complaints about the traffic jam caused by the APEC hosting, he said every member economy that hosted the APEC had made sacrifices.

“When we host, we know that we have to sacrifice a bit and we don’t host every year. In fact, the last time we hosted was 19 years ago,” he said.

“I think, if we look at it from a different perspective, from the other side of the coin as it were, it’s a little sacrifice compared to the benefits that we will, in the years to come, gain out of membership from APEC,” Paynor said. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

President Aquino to thank fellow leaders as he attends his last ASEAN Summit
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he will bid farewell to his fellow leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as thank them for their continuing support for the Philippines, when he attends the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Siyempre po, dahil ito na ang huling pagkakataon na dadalo ako sa ASEAN bilang inyong Pangulo, gagamitin din natin ang pagkakataon upang magpaalam sa mga pinuno ng Timog-Silangang Asya,” the President said in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 on Friday.

“Pasasalamatan natin sila sa kanilang pagtitiwala at pagsuporta sa ating pagtahak sa Daang Matuwid; sa kanilang pakikiramay sa panahon ng sakuna; sa kanilang pakikipagtulungan upang lalo pang mapaigting ang seguridad ng ating rehiyon; at sa kanilang pagiging katuwang sa pagsusulong ng mapayapa at makatuwirang resolusyon sa mga hamon na kinakaharap natin.”

The Chief Executive said he would seize the opportunity to push the country’s interests in the ASEAN so he could bring good news when he returns on November 23.

“Habang pinagtitibay natin ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibang bansa, lalo ring yumayabong ang mga ipinunla nating positibong pagbabago sa ating lipunan,” he said.

“Sa patuloy nga po ninyong pagbibigay-lakas sa Daang Matuwid, makikilala ang kakayahan ng Pilipino, sa rehiyon at sa buong daigdig.”

The President noted that the 27th ASEAN Summit is important because the trade bloc will launch the ASEAN Community this month.

Through the ASEAN Community, he said, ASEAN member countries can develop their economies, enhance security, protect their people, and help the less privileged.

“Ito rin po ang magpapalakas sa kakayahan ng rehiyon na makibahagi sa pandaigdigang palitan ng mga produkto, serbisyo, at kaalaman,” he stressed.

“Dahil nga po dito, mas marami tayong mabubuksang pagkakataon para ang ating mga kababayan ay makapagpakitang-gilas at makipag-ambagan sa iba’t ibang larangan.”

The regional grouping will also launch the ASEAN Vision 2025, which will set the ASEAN’s direction.

The ASEAN Vision 2025 will define the specific pathway for every member country to ensure that no one will be left behind and make the ASEAN an active participant in the global community of nations, he said. PND (as)

APEC leaders take strong stand on Climate Change
MANILA) With the Paris talks only a couple of weeks away, leaders of the 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) took a strong stand on climate change.

In the 2015 APEC Leaders Declaration, they reaffirmed their goals to cut total energy intensity by 45 percent by 2035 and double renewable energy in the regional energy mix by 2030. They recognized that these are needed to achieve sustainable and resilient energy development within the Asia-Pacific region.

The leaders also committed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term fossil fuel subsidies,” which according to the International Monetary Fund cost $5.3 trillion this year, because they are inefficient and encourage wasteful consumption.

Responding to the fact that the region overlaps the Pacific Ring of Fire, where typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, rising sea levels, and pandemics make the region vulnerable, and the “new normal” due to climate change, the leaders adopted the APEC Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework for collective action.

The following 10 APEC economies are located within the Pacific Ring of Fire: Chile, Peru, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Japan, and New Zealand.

As part of their transition to low-carbon economy, the leaders committed to “explore the contribution of biofuels, civil nuclear power as a base load power source, advanced coal technologies, liquefied natural gas, solar, wind, and marine energy technologies.”

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris from November 30 to December 11, all world leaders will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Going beyond the framework intended to minimize losses, the leaders instructed their ministers to craft an action plan in 2016 to operationalize it. They commended the financial ministers’ efforts to develop innovative disaster risk financing and insurance mechanisms in relation to natural disasters.

The leaders asked their science officials to provide “coordinated and scientific advice surrounding and during emergencies” and welcomed the development of the Healthy Asia-Pacific 2020 Roadmap, which among others set collaboration in detecting and preventing the spread of diseases.

The 21 APEC leaders also thanked its members that have volunteered to undergo peer review on inefficient fossil fuel subsidy. Peru and New Zealand have completed the review, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Chinese-Taipei, and Brunei have volunteered to participate, according to the ministers.

Concretely, the APEC Sustainable Energy Center and the Task Force on Energy Resiliency have been established to accomplish its goals to promote energy security and sustainable development while providing energy access to those who need it.

To conserve biodiversity and mitigate and adapt to climate change, the 21 APEC leaders reiterated their commitment in 2007 to increase by at least 20 million hectares of all types of forests by 2020, as well as stop illegal logging and wildlife trafficking.

A non-binding formation, APEC nevertheless sets the direction for a wide-ranging economic initiatives for its 21 member economies, which altogether account for more than half of the world’s GDP and brings together three of the world’s most powerful countries of US, China, and Japan. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

President Aquino: Several countries have expressed support for Philippines’ Trans-Pacific Partnership bid
A number of Asia-Pacific Economi6c Cooperation (APEC) leaders have expressed support for the Philippines’ bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) once it comes into force, President Benigno S. Aquino III said in a statement at the conclusion of the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Manila.“This is a very encouraging sign; we of course want to join the TPP because it offers access to a far larger market,” the President said in the statement.

“The US and Australia, among other economies, expressed their support for this particular endeavor.”

The President also expressed elation over the news that the US would be turning over to the Philippines a research vessel and a coast guard cutter, which will boost the capabilities of the country’s Navy.

The TPP is a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters on economic policy, reaching an agreement last month after eight years of negotiation.

The TPP’s goal is to promote economic growth, support job creation, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, reduce poverty, and raise living standards.

It also aims to promote transparency and good governance, and enhance labor and environmental protection.

During the APEC Leaders’ Week, President Aquino separately met with fellow leaders, forging several agreements.

For instance, during the meeting with Mexico and Russia, the Philippines and its partners committed to work together to combat drug trafficking, a common concern of their peoples.

The Philippines meanwhile offered assistance that would support Papua New Guinea’s agriculture sector.

The country also formalized this week its strategic partnership with Vietnam and its comprehensive partnership with Australia, the President said. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

APEC economies agree on several frameworks to spur growth, says President Aquino
Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreed on the overarching frameworks to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to strengthen the region’s financial market, and mitigate the impact of natural calamities, President Benigno S. Aquino III said in a statement after the conclusion of the APEC leaders’ meeting on Thursday.First, he said, they adopted during the leaders’ meeting the APEC Strategy for Strengthening Quality Growth, a framework that will guide the APEC in undertaking robust, comprehensive, and ambitious structural reforms over the next five years.

The trade bloc will focus its reform efforts, and measure progress, in terms of institution building, social cohesion, and environmental impact, he said.

“We do this with the awareness that the world economy continues to confront significant risk and uncertainty, even as trade growth is slowing down, thus impressing upon all of us, the need to tap into new opportunities for economic growth,” he said, adding the strategy will help the APEC promote increased growth through structural reform.

Second, the APEC leaders also approved the APEC Services Cooperation Framework, he said, noting that the services sector is becoming a more important part of the economic equation.

The services sector makes up approximately two-thirds of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the APEC region, and the grouping needs to put more emphasis and thought into making this sector more competitive, he said.

“This Framework will lead to a goal-driven roadmap for us to achieve over the next decade, to help the sector thrive.”

For its part, the Philippines took the opportunity to meet with leaders of economies, as well as leaders in the private sector, who had gathered in Manila for the APEC meeting.

The President met with the leaders of Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Australia, South Korea, the US, and Russia.

In his statement, the President also thanked individuals and organizations who extended their help to make the country’s APEC hosting a success.

“For all these successes, I thank all those who worked tirelessly to make this event possible,” he said.
“Most importantly, I am grateful to our countrymen who have expressed their support for our hosting.”

“All my fellow leaders heaped praise on how our people have welcomed them, and their words really made me swell up with pride,” the President said, adding that with the continued support of other economies, the Philippines will continue to develop in the coming years. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev identifies key factors in the economic development of Asia-Pacific region
(MANILA) Regional integration, innovation and human capital development and investment — these, according to Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, are the basic factors without which Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies and other nations cannot create an effective architecture for modern economic development.

The first factor, deeper regional integration, is a priority in the Asia-Pacific region, Prime Minister Medvedev said during the APEC CEO Summit hosted in Manila. He said this has long been the advocacy of Russia.

The Prime Minister said Russia believes that the preferential trade agreements signed within the APEC’s framework, though very important, should not replace or damage but complement the multilateral trade system and the existing economic ties.

Considering this strategic goal, Medvedev said, it is of crucial importance that global trade rules should remain universal and should be developed at a common platform, primarily the World Trade Organization, for this is what it was created for.

“It is logical that all concerned parties should be involved in this work,” he said. “This is the only way to coordinate absolutely legitimate standards that would be applicable to all members. Hence, I consider it of utmost importance for the Asia-Pacific forum to maintain a common and consistent stance on strengthening the multilateral trade system, including within the framework of the Bogor Goals,” he said.

The second factor, which concerns innovation and human capital development, offers a lot of new opportunities for business, including small and medium enterprises, said Medvedev who attended this year’s APEC Summit on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said that in this aspect, APEC economies need to complement one another in the spheres of research, experimental capability, human and educational potential, and the commercialization of innovations.

According to Medvedev, the joint, practical use of these advantages will create a new quality of economic development in the region.

“Russia is ready to contribute to this joint work,” he stressed.

However, regional integration, breakthrough innovations and the development of human capital will not be possible without the third factor: investment.

Medvedev said Russia intends to contribute to the settlement of the most challenging regional issues, such as energy and food security.

“There are broad opportunities for expanding the cooperation agendas for APEC member economies, but what is really needed is for businesses to combine efforts with the governments to use these opportunities in the best interests of the Asia-Pacific region,” he pointed out. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

APEC leaders push for realization of a China-led regional free trade zone initiative
(MANILA) Leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies on Thursday pushed for the realization of the Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP), a China-led initiative that is aimed at facilitating free trade and drive economic growth in the region.

In the declaration, officially issued Thursday afternoon following their retreat, the APEC leaders reaffirmed their commitment “to advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner towards the eventual realization of the FTAAP as a major instrument to further APEC’s regional economic integration agenda”.

“We reiterate our belief that the FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by building on ongoing regional undertakings,” the declaration read, commending also the progress by officials working on the implementation of the Beijing Roadmap for APEC’s Contribution to the Realization of the FTAAP.

Such progress includes the Collective Strategic Study on Issues Related to the Realization of the FTAAP, the Information Sharing Mechanism, and the 2nd Capacity Building Needs Initiative (CBNI).

“We instruct Ministers and officials to continue this work and, in particular, we look forward to receiving the findings and accompanying recommendations of the Collective Strategic Study when we meet again next year in Peru,” the declaration added.

Peru will be the host for next year’s APEC meetings.

The FTAAP, China’s landmark initiative in last year’s APEC summit, would help consolidate the various bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms in the region to prevent what many fear could lead to fragmentation.

The declaration said the FTAAP should be able to address “next generation trade and investment issues”.

Related to the consolidation of a number of bilateral and multilateral trade mechanisms in the region are the negotiations for the Washington-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and another China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Current members of the TPP, which met on Wednesday on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ summit, are Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, United States, and Vietnam—all APEC members as well.

The Philippines has earlier signified its intention to join the group.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a call for the realization of the FTAAP during his keynote speech at the APEC CEO Summit at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Wednesday morning while US President Obama said the TPP is “the highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded” during a first-ever meeting among TPP members since it was concluded last month. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)