18 September 2015

APEC News Releases

856 million women to benefit from APEC policy toolkit by 2019
(MANILA) About 856 million women would benefit from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) health policy toolkit for women by 2019 if covered economies adopt its recommendations.

One of the toolkit drafters said in an interview during an APEC meeting on Friday that the 865 million women workers include the indigenous, cross-border workers, migrant workers, unregulated workers, local casual laborers, and the urban poor.

“The expectation is, by 2019, almost all APEC economies would have implemented parts of the toolkit, because as you know it is a non-binding document, but we expect that given the enthusiasm among the ministers on this topic, they will (adopt this toolkit),” said Dr. Sarbani Chakraborty, global public policy senior director of pharmaceutical giant Merck.

So far, she said, the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru have committed to adopt the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit.

“I find all economies are very interested. One of the gaps (is) there is no information in the workplace. That is why we came out with the toolkit,” said Dr. Chakraborty.

The policy recommendations help all women, married or single, helping partners or parents to provide for the household, and caring for the family and home, said APEC Business Advisory Council Chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho.

The toolkit seeks to address the increasing rate of non-communicable diseases among female workers; improve women’s access to health care by providing them and their families health insurance and other health benefits; provide them access to maternal health care and education; raise awareness on sexual harassment in the workplace, among others.

Aside from the toolkit, the APEC also organized an exhibit of iconic APEC women who excel and contribute to sustainable growth and development of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).

The Women Icons of APEC are Leonarda Capuyan of the Philippines; Carol Hanlon of Australia; Wendy Pye of New Zealand; Victoria Lennox of Canada; Janet Sape of Papua New Guinea; Andrea Larrazaval of Chile; Rosario Bazán de Aranguri of Peru; Reny Feby of Indonesia;

Anna Nesterova of Russia; Lin Kobayashi of Japan; Shao Jie of People’s Republic of China; Mei-Ping Hasio of Chinese Taipei; Minjai Lee of Republic of Korea; Suwanna Jiwattanapaiboon of Thailand; Bhg Dato’ Hazimah Zainnudin of Malaysia; and Julie Hanna of the United States. (acg)

APEC women to benefit from Boracay Action Agenda
(MANILA) Women in the Asia Pacific will benefit from the Boracay Action Agenda in terms of economic participation and empowerment.

During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy (HLPD-WE) held at the Philippine International Convention Center on Friday, APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Chair Gregory Domingo said the Boracay Action Agenda has specified objectives supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) led by women.

The Boracay Action Agenda, adopted by APEC member economies during the MRT Meeting in Boracay last May, aims for the direct participation of MSMEs in the global value chain.

The Philippines has a special advocacy on MSMEs as they play a crucial role in the economy, said Domingo, who is also the Philippines’ trade and industry secretary.

In APEC, MSMEs account for 97 percent of enterprises, and 50 percent to 80 percent of employment; have a 13 percent to 60 percent share in the gross domestic product (GDP), which varies among countries; and contribute up to 35 percent of countries’ exports.

“A significant number of women are engaged as enterprise owners, managers, and workers, particularly in micro enterprises,” Domingo said.

“In general, global value chains engage medium enterprises and only a small minority of micro and small enterprises are able to participate since they often lack the required sophistication,” he noted.

He added that most micro and small enterprises are unable to participate in direct exports due to cumbersome procedures.

Domingo, however, assured that the APEC MRT has realized the full economic potential of women.

According to the United Nations (UN), the APEC region loses about US$47 billion in output each year due to the lack of women’s participation in labor markets.

The UN also estimated that the APEC region could gain US$89 billion annually once barriers to women’s economic participation are eliminated.

“There is a need to mainstream women’s participation in various APEC Fora, so their capacity building needs could be addressed,” the APEC MRT Chair stressed.

He cited the Boracay Action Agenda’s objectives for MSMEs that are also beneficial to women, among them the use of gender disaggregated data in measuring the economic and social impacts of MSMEs; promoting and understanding the divergent constraints faced by female-led, as well as male-led MSMEs; and encouraging the exchange of best practices of women-friendly interfaces with customs and other border authorities.

“For APEC, achieving sustainable growth with equity will be done by enhancing MSMEs global competitiveness through innovation and tapping women’s productivity,” Domingo noted. PNA (kc)

APEC leaders, ministers pushing for gender equality, women empowerment to achieve inclusive growth
(MANILA) Leaders and ministers of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are pushing for gender equality and women empowerment in the region, APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Chair Gregory Domingo said on Friday.

Domingo, who is also the Philippines’ Trade and Industry Secretary, said sustainable growth with equity in the Asia Pacific could be attained by promoting gender equality and increasing women’s economic participation.

“Thus, APEC leaders and ministers have agreed to work together to focus on eliminating the barriers that curtail gender equality and women’s economic empowerment,” he said during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy (HLPD-WE) held at the Philippine International Convention Center here.

He added that this effort will involve equal facilitation for both men and women in the region in terms of access to markets, skills and capacity building, health, leadership, innovation and technology.

“For APEC, achieving sustainable growth with equity will be done by enhancing MSMEs’ (micro, small, and medium enterprises) global competitiveness through innovation, and tapping women’s productivity, as well as working on ensuring financial inclusion, strengthening food security, and improving access to health services,” Domingo said.

“With the promotion of MSMEs in the region, women enterprises stand to benefit as APEC is also giving special focus to realizing the full economic potential of women,” he stressed.

Domingo noted that a significant number of women are engaged in MSMEs as owners, managers, and workers.

He also cited the MSMEs’ potential to push innovation in the region, in collaboration with large companies.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is concluding its hosting of the four-day APEC Women and the Economy Fora.

The country plays a significant role in pushing gender equality and women empowerment in the region.

It was in Manila in 1996 when APEC founded the Women’s Senior Leaders Network, which called on APEC leaders and ministers to put emphasis on the full participation of women and youth in the economic cooperation agenda.

The country also hosted the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Women in 1998. PNA (kc)

APEC dialogue cites four reasons why small enterprises are important to regional growth
(MANILA) Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are vital to achieving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) goal of inclusive economic growth, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said during the opening of the APEC High Level Dialogue on Women and Economy here Friday.

Secretary Domingo cited four reasons: MSMEs cover 97 percent of all businesses; create 50 percent to 80 percent of jobs in APEC economies; contribute 13 percent to 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP); and comprise 35 percent of exports.

“MSMEs are also a source of innovation, normally in collaboration with larger firms, as they are integrated with global supply chains,” he said, citing the trade agreements that have made the establishment of these connections possible.

Domingo noted that during the recently concluded Boracay Action Agenda, trade ministers emphasized the MSMEs’ role in regional and global trade.

The APEC aims to achieve growth with equity through enhanced MSMEs and women participation, he said.

At the same time, the Philippines’ “sustained and steadfast” contribution in the adoption of the framework for the integration of women issues in the APEC since 1998 was recognized.

While a non-binding formation, APEC meetings are able to set domestic, regional, and industrial policies to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

The APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, US, Vietnam, and the Philippines. (acg)

Internet portal for Asia Pacific’s women entrepreneurs launched
(MANILA) An Internet portal connecting 600 networks of women entrepreneurs to other businesses, governments, and one another was launched on Thursday night in an effort to create more opportunities for them.

The portal, www.we-apec.com, seeks to “successfully foster access to capital” for women entrepreneurs in member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) by connecting buyers to suppliers in the region and by providing information on crowdsourcing, said US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell.

Crowdsourcing is getting work or funding, usually online, from a number of people.

The portal also seeks to assist governments in helping these women by providing the appropriate information, Russell said.

The website serves women entrepreneurs who want to “expand their businesses by connecting with other entrepreneurs in the region, especially when they have a limited amount of time, and finding the right information has been difficult”, she said.

The portal is a US initiative from last year’s APEC meetings in China, Russell said.

“It has been a little under a year since last year when (US State) Secretary John Kerry announced in Beijing that the US will develop an APEC initiative to promote women to economic empowerment through entrepreneurship,” she said.

When it started the portal, the team working on it “found groundbreaking efforts by government to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs”, Russell said.

“In other words, we found tremendous project programs and policy right here in the region, so we built a tool that brings all these pieces together so that stakeholders can find the right connection and info they need,” she said. (acg)

U.S. State Department launches entrepreneurship portal for women
The US State Department on Thursday launched the Women’s Entrepreneurship in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) portal to help women entrepreneurs improve their businesses. During the launch, held at the Sofitel Hotel, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, said the US State Department built the tool where women can find what they are looking for in expanding their businesses.

“Tonight, we are excited to launch the portal. We hope it truly makes a difference to entrepreneurs and to those working across sectors to support them,” Russell said.

“By connecting governments, entrepreneurs and the private sector, we can help everyone to do business better and advance gender equality in the process,” she said.

“I (would) also like to point out that the portal illustrates how far we are in the path to gender equality. It is clear that the APEC economies understand that women empowerment and equality are critical in the region’s development and economic growth.”

The Policy Partnership for Women in the Economy (PPWE), an initiative under APEC, aims to ensure that women also benefit from economic integration among APEC members.

The PPWE has five priority areas in women’s economic empowerment — access to capital and assets; access to markets; skills, capacity building and health; leadership, voice and agency; and innovation and technology.

A PPWE study identified the lack of women’s entrepreneurial networks in the APEC as a barrier for the growth of women-owned businesses in the region, thus, the PPWE created the Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE-APEC) initiative.

The WE-APEC focuses on connecting women entrepreneurs with one another, to the private sector to access the vast range of goods and services available from women-owned enterprises, and to government services that help businesses grow.

Launched in 2014, the WE-APEC’s first undertaking was to compile information and highlight best practices on how women entrepreneurs in each APEC economy are served, supported, and strengthened through business networks, private sector initiatives, and government services.

The WE-APEC focuses on the entrepreneurship ecosystem, such as micro-enterprises, small and medium enterprises, large companies, lenders, business associations, suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors, government agencies and so on, that support entrepreneurs.

The WE-APEC initiative aims to help the main institutional service providers within this ecosystem that support women entrepreneurs—business networks, private sector initiatives, and government services.

The initiative is also a venue to share experiences and best practices, and develop connections that can help entrepreneurs access new markets and increase international trade. PND (as)

Filipina to chair an APEC committee in 2016
“I am proud to inform you that the Philippines will be chairing the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) next year for APEC, and the one appointed, selected by APEC is one of our women,” Domingo said before concluding his speech at the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy at the Philippine International Convention Center here.

Chair of the APEC Women and the Economy (WE) Nora Terrado meanwhile said that next year’s CTI chair will come from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Domingo and Terrado are the Secretary and Undersecretary of DTI, respectively.

The CTI is the APEC’s coordinating body for all works in areas of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

A CTI meeting was held last September 1 in Cebu City.

After this year’s APEC hosting of the Philippines, the APEC 2016 Summit will be hosted by Peru.

Meanwhile, the APEC WE Fora, which sought to empower women through enhanced economic and leadership participation, concluded on Friday. PNA (kc)

APEC economies to advance women’s participation in economy
Recognizing the collaboration between policymakers and industry leaders, member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have pledged that the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) would work closely with the APEC Business Advisory Council to advance women’s participation in regional growth.In a joint statement released on Friday after the three-day APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora (APEC WE), the APEC delegates said they encourage APEC economies to take concrete steps towards addressing gender disparities in women’s participation in the labor force.

“We recognize the commitments of G20 leaders in 2014 to reduce the gender gap by 25 percent by 2025,” they said in the statement.

They also commended economy-led efforts under the PPWE to enhance women’s entrepreneurship, including in disaster reconstruction, to encourage women’s participation in the economy using new technologies and information and communications technology (ICT) tools to empower them through leadership.

The participants also welcomed the outcome of the Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy held on Thursday, which provided an educational and interactive forum for sharing best practices and experiences.

They also encouraged companies, employers, entrepreneurs, and governments to invest in human capital to ensure the physical and mental health of all workers, including women.

At the same time, they called on public and private sector stakeholders to promote and respect gender diversity at all levels of employment.

They also want both sectors to develop mechanisms to collect sex-disaggregated data, formulate policies to ensure the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as to ensure transparency on government actions.

The APEC WE Fora tackled three sub-themes: Women and Inclusive Business, Women in the International Markets and Global Value Chains, and Women and Sustainable Development. PND (as)

No Filipino reported hurt in Chile quake, says Palace official
No Filipino has so far been reported injured or killed following the powerful earthquake that struck central Chile on Wednesday night, a Palace official has said.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that according to Philippine Ambassador to Chile Maria Consuelo Puyat-Reyes, they have not received any report on Filipinos affected by the 8.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile.

“According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, we have an estimated number of 300 Filipinos in Chile. Our ambassador in Santiago has already reported that so far there has been none,” Undersecretary Valte said during the daily press briefing on Friday.

Valte said that nonetheless, the government would continue to coordinate with the Philippine embassy in Chile to monitor the situation of the Filipinos there.

“We will keep an eye out for it until such time that we are sure that there are no injuries or casualties because our embassy there is ready to give assistance,” she said.

The quake, which killed at least 12 people and led to the evacuation of one million people, was the biggest to hit the South American country since 2010. PND (co)

APEC economies eye wider role for women during disasters
Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) want to give women equal opportunities in decision-making on disaster risk reduction, response and recovery, as well as empower them to become champions of community resilience against disasters.

In a joint statement after the three-day APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora, the APEC ministers and other participants said they want to encourage women to become integral members of the community during disasters and climate change adaptation.

Women, who usually administer provisions to their families during calamities, must be empowered, such as through entrepreneurship, to make them more resilient in the face of extreme weather disturbance.

“Women entrepreneurs should also be provided with capacity building, technical support, and access to capital to enable them to run resilient enterprises. This will ensure that devastations brought about by disasters will not permanently rob them of their income and livelihood,” they said in the statement.

They noted that efforts towards promoting business continuity programs to support women-owned enterprises must also be encouraged so that women entrepreneurs immediately recover in the aftermath of disasters.

“Reducing barriers to accessing financial capital and technical assistance as part of business continuity planning would help to ensure recovery of loss in business,” they said.

Disaster recovery centers should also set up women-friendly spaces to ensure the safety and specific needs of women, with hopes of continuing their meetings in Peru, which will host the APEC Summit next year, they said.

The APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora statement will be presented to the APEC economic leaders when they meet in Manila in November. PND (as)

Palace: Roxas is President Aquino’s only choice to continue ‘Daang Matuwid’
President Benigno S. Aquino III is not torn between Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and Senator Grace Poe, as he has always made it clear to the public whom he has chosen to continue his ‘Daang Matuwid’, a Malacañang official said Friday.Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte was clarifying whatever interpretation some political pundits might have over President Aquino’s recent statement regarding Poe’s presidential bid.

“The President has a very clear answer to that. He only has one (choice). Isa lang po ang inendorso ng Pangulong Aquino (at) alam naman po natin kung sino ito,” Undersecretary Valte said, referring to Sec. Manuel Roxas II, whom the President formally endorsed to be his successor last July 31 at the Club Filipino.

In a press conference held Thursday, President Aquino said he has nothing against Poe joining the presidential race, and even thanked her for promising him that she would not engage in any mudslinging against the administration when the campaign period starts.

“Talagang ikinatutuwa ko naman na, in a sense, parang nagpaalam (si Senator Poe at) nagpaliwanag ng kanyang mga intensyon… Sabi niya ‘darating tayo sa kampanya na kung saan makakarating sa kampo mo na inaatake kita at never kong gagawin ‘yon,’” President Aquino said, describing to reporters how his conversation with Poe went the night before she announced her candidacy.

While he felt grateful for the courtesy extended him by the senator, President Aquino said he would not mind being criticized by their opponents, so long as their criticisms were backed by solid facts.

Some observers reportedly read this as a veiled nod to Poe’s candidacy by the President, which Malacañang denied, saying the references he has made pertaining to criticisms were “not unique” to the senator.

“That is not the first time the President has said that in reference to criticisms. I can point out no less than five instances that the President has said na, ‘Okay lang po sa amin ang batikos…’ It is not unique to Senator Grace Poe na sinabi ito ng Pangulo,” Valte said.

Poe was initially President Aquino’s choice to be the running mate of Roxas, but she decided to push for the presidency instead, alongside Senator Francis Escudero as her vice president.

Both President Aquino and Roxas accepted Poe’s decision, with the latter even wishing her the best of luck, as they vie for the people’s votes under similar goals but separate roads. PND (hdc)

Secretary Domingo to remain in post until after APEC, says Palace official
Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo will remain in his post at least until after the country wraps up its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November, a Malacañang official said on Friday.In a press briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Secretary Domingo delayed his departure to ensure that there would be no disruption in the services provided by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) relevant to the APEC meetings.

“We got word that Secretary Domingo has agreed to extend, or at least delay his departure until after the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) that we will have in November,” Undersecretary Valte told reporters.

“For those of you who were asking me on possible disruption (of DTI services) when the initial news broke that Secretary Greg was resigning, I think we can put your fears to rest already because he will stay until after the AELM in November,” she added.

As far as the DTI is concerned, Valte said, it still has to take care of the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises ministerial meeting happening in Iloilo on September 21 to 26.

The DTI is also responsible for the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November in tandem with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Palace official further said.

Domingo submitted his resignation sometime this month, as confirmed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., which President Aquino has put “under consideration”.

The reasons behind Domingo’s decision to leave DTI have yet to be disclosed but Valte was quick to take so-called “personal differences” with the President out of the possible grounds for the secretary’s resignation. PND (hdc)

Palace reaffirms support for mining revenue bill
Malacañang on Friday reiterated its support for the proposed law containing a new mining revenue-sharing scheme, which is pending in Congress.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Executive department continues to participate in the hearings regarding the measure.

Its passage, however, lies in the hands of the lawmakers, she said.

“We continue to participate doon sa mga hearings about this because I understand, meron din tayong sarili nating input pagdating diyan sa panukalang batas na ito. But whether it will be passed within this Congress or the next is something that we cannot answer. That will be mainly up to our legislators,” Undersecretary Valte said.

The Palace official noted that several priority bills are pending in Congress, among them the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill, and the proposed 2016 national budget.

House Bill No. 5367, authored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, specifies a new revenue-sharing arrangement between the government and large-scale mining companies that will allow the State to get a fair share of the revenues and economic benefits derived from the country’s mineral resources. PND (gp)

APEC forum on women comes up with strategic plan for 2015 to 2018
(MANILA) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy (APEC WE) Fora concluded on Friday with the Strategic Plan 2015-2018 to boost women’s economic participation in the region.

“The PPWE (Policy Partnership on WE), the working group arm of APEC WE, came up with its own strategic plan, which lays down specific targets to support integration of gender-responsive policy and program and for stronger fora collaboration,” APEC WE Chair Nora Terrado said during a press conference.

Terrado, who is also a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) undersecretary, said deliverables to achieve APEC WE goals will tap five key areas.

These areas are access to capital; access to markets; skills, capacity building and health; leadership, voice and agency; and innovation and technology.

Terrado also noted that during the Public-Private Dialogue on WE (PPDWE), APEC member economies were urged to leverage technology and e-commerce to improve women’s economic participation.

She added that APEC economies aim to increase investments in education and engage more women in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.

The APEC WE Fora chairperson also noted that enhancing women’s participation in economic activities will enable them to become an economic driver in the region. PNA (kc)

Delegates ‘happy’ with Philippines’ hosting of APEC, says Malacañang official
The Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has drawn positive responses from delegates and guests coming from the grouping’s 21 member economies.

“So far, our delegates have been very happy with our hosting and they have said so themselves,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during the daily media briefing at the Palace.

“So far it is going well. We are past the halfway mark already,” she added.

She noted that only four ministerial meetings are left before the holding of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM), which is the highlight of the annual event.

Undersecretary Valte said the Philippines has successfully pushed several key initiatives during the series of ministerial meetings and dialogues related to the summit.

“Marami na po tayong naitutulak na mga initiatives. Sa APEC po kasi medyo mahaba po ang proseso nila because in APEC, kailangan po lahat ng ekonomiya mag-agree sa isang inisyatiba. Pero maganda na ang mga naitutulak natin. We have a very strong push to help our micro, small and medium enterprises,” she said.

The overall theme of this year’s APEC is the promotion and advancement of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region. As host economy, the Philippines will seek to mainstream and pursue its priorities into the agenda and economic policy thrusts of the member economies.

Fostering small and medium enterprises’ participation in regional and global markets form part of the country’s four priorities. The others are investing in human capital development; building sustainable and resilient communities; and enhancing the regional economic integration agenda. PND (gp)