Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has called for more inclusive trade liberalization that will contribute to economic and social development among countries in the Asia Pacific region.
ABAC Philippines Chair Tomas Alcantara said more than communicating the benefits of pursuing open trade, impacts of this global development must be broadly felt by stakeholders.
“The legitimate objectives of globalization, namely dismantling barriers to trade thereby allowing consumers access to better and cheaper products and services are laudable. But an equally important objective of globalization must center on enabling a more socially inclusive growth and development,” said Alcantara.
“We in business must work with our governments to develop policies that support continuing worker skill development and greater access to technology that enable for example, our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enteprises) to produce competitive products and services and profitably offer them to established value chains and bigger markets,” he added.
ABAC also welcomed the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) under the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will further facilitate movements of goods and reduce costs of trade.
“Anything that facilitates trade and makes it less costly is certainly a welcome development. Consumers will benefit from more diverse, cheaper, and better quality goods,” said Alcantara.
After two-thirds of WTO members ratified the TFA, the new trade pact became effective last month.
The TFA is projected to reduce global trade cost by an average of 14.3 percent, while adding 2.7 percent annually to exports growth.
“Most importantly, the TFA should offer great opportunities especially for small firms and those from developing economies, to expand their participation in global markets by reducing red tape, costs and technical barriers to trade,” the ABAC Philippines head noted.
Meanwhile, ABAC had its first meeting for this year in February in Bangkok, Thailand.
ABAC is the voice of the business community among the 21 member economies of APEC.
In the past 20 years, cooperation among APEC economies has lifted the lives of more than 700 million people out of poverty.
“The Asia-Pacific has benefited from trade liberalization, making the region the most dynamic in the globe. By working cooperatively and proactively with governments and other stakeholders, we in business can play a critical role in mitigating the dislocation globalization may bring about, broaden the benefits of trade and thereby further enhance the region’s growth prospects moving forward,” Alcantara said .