MSME agenda to be pursued

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THE Philippines is strongly advocating for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to access regional and global markets, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

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There is particular interest in making sure that the MSME agenda is tabled at meetings and discussions leading up to the 10th session of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (WTO MC10) from December 15 to 18 in Nairobi, Kenya.

As one of the vice chairpersons at the MC10, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo is set to advance the Philippine agenda.

The Philippine mission to the World Trade Organization (PMWTO) has submitted a document on the importance of MSMEs and the opportunities to enhance existing dialogues on MSMEs between the WTO and other international organizations.

“MSMEs should be the among the priorities of ongoing trade talks, policies, and agreements in the WTO as they comprise the majority of all registered businesses, account for a significant portion of value added and total employment, and are important sources of innovation and job creation, especially in developing countries such as the Philippines,” Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal said.

Cristobal noted that advancing the MSME agenda at the WTO aims to lower tariffs and trade barriers, improve the ease of doing business, help MSMEs operate in the global market, reduce the cost of finished products, sustain and improve the Philippines’ international standing, and drive inclusive growth.

Since 1995, the Philippines has been a member of the multilateral trading system under the WTO, an international group for liberalizing trade, negotiating trade agreements, and settling trade disputes. The WTO is currently host to new negotiations under the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which aims to open markets to agriculture products, reduce developed-country subsidies to the agriculture sector, and secure a special, more effective, and practical safeguards mechanism.

“Our strategy is to utilize our WTO membership as a tool to improve our local industries and address the development gaps in our country,” Cristobal noted.

“By actively participating in discussions and negotiations, and consistently facilitating dialogue and cooperation with our stakeholders, we are optimistic that we can forge better understanding and coherence in discussions of our priorities and initiatives for MSMEs in the multilateral trading system,” he added.

Today (December 1), the DTI is meeting with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, industry associations, and relevant government agencies to discuss the status of DDA negotiations and exchange views on cross-cutting issues in the WTO.

This is among the series of consultations under the DTI’s One Country, One Voice program which institutionalizes stakeholder engagement in policy-making to develop a sound, balanced, and rational trade policy.

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