The Philippines has officially launched the preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 summit as the host country, focusing on building economies that feature inclusive growth as the theme of the regional gathering.
“Inclusive growth is where economic progress enables the betterment of our peoples; and where those empowered peoples can open the doors wider to even greater progress, spurring a virtuous cycle of empowerment and continuous development,” President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd said in his speech at the opening ceremony at the Green Sun Hotel in Makati City late Monday.
The Philippines last hosted an APEC summit in 1996, more than two decades ago. In 2015, the Philippine government is set to hold a series of meetings in preparation for the conference and the APEC CEO summit set for November 15 to 17, 2015 in Manila.
“This gathering’s significance is magnified when one considers that, in a world where many economies are reeling from uncertainty, Asia-Pacific economies have, for the large part, sustained a relatively good level of growth. In fact, Southeast Asia in particular has been identified as one of the world’s most promising regions,” Aquino said.
“It is for this reason that the Philippines has chosen to orient this year’s APEC toward making certain that this growth has tangible effects on the lives of all our peoples. This explains our theme: ‘Building inclusive economies, building a better world.’ I am confident that, with our country’s remarkable turnaround in recent years, our story and our experiences can certainly enrich the discussions on this topic,” he said.
The APEC aims to promote free trade and economic cooperation in the 21 member economies with coastlines along the Pacific Ocean region.
Besides Manila, Legazpi City, Clark-Pampanga, Bagac-Bataan, Boracay, Bacolod, Iloilio City, Tagaytay and Cebu will be hosting other ministerial meetings. The Philippine government’s strategy is spreading out as much opportunities for SMEs as possible.
The summit will seek to underscore the significance of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country’s economy, and their role and integration in global supply chains, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo said.
The country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 99 percent of local businesses, contributing 65 percent of the jobs generated by all types of business establishments.
Domingo pointed out that as the backbone of the country’s economy, MSMEs are developed by the government to help them become more competitive not just regionally but also globally.
“…We are really looking at cross-border supply chains. The 2013 UNCTAD World Investment Report estimates that 80 percent of Gross Global Exports are tied to global value chains,” Domingo said.
“To achieve inclusive growth, it is imperative that our SMEs must be competitive and be able to participate in global value chains. For Filipino SMEs to succeed internationally, they need access to open, transparent, and efficient markets. As incoming chair of APEC 2015, the Philippines will help ensure that all APEC member economies will support businesses in this way,” he said.
“We would encourage the other APEC economies to improve their institutional support system for SMEs. The Philippines will lead projects that will promote and harness synergistic linkages between SMEs and large firms, as well as to enable SMEs to benefit from the regional economic integration. Simply put, we will look at global trade through the prism of SMEs,” he added.
The 21 APEC economies comprise an estimated 44 percent of global trade and 53 percent of world GDP in purchasing power parity terms. With its rate of growth faster than the rest of the world, APEC is the most economically dynamic region in the world.
“We are making the same big push for SME trade facilitation to strengthen and attain an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). We truly need to ensure that SMEs can participate in regional trade in an easy manner. We have to make sure that the rules are made simple for small companies so they can feel the effect or benefits of the free trade agreements,” Domingo said.
“Our initiatives for SME’s though don’t end outside of the negotiating table. You would notice that for the country’s year-round hosting of APEC 2015 meetings, there is a very deliberate effort from the government to bring the meetings to the regions.” he added.