TAGAYTAY CITY: National Treasurer Roberto Tan urged member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) at an ongoing meeting to intensify efforts to boost trade and investment as they seek to maintain a high growth trajectory in the region.
During the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting held here on Thursday, National Treasurer Tan said the Asia-Pacific region is seen as an engine of growth as the global economy struggles to recover.
“As the global economy recovers, the Asia-Pacific region is seen to be an engine of growth. For this year, growth in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to accelerate to 4.3 percent from 3.9 percent in 2014. The conditions are supportive for the region to maintain its growth path,” Tan said.
According to the National Treasurer, Asia-Pacific economic activity remains dynamic and buoyed by robust consumer demand, particularly among emerging markets. Exports have been rising as some economies move up the value chain, and inflation remains subdued, creating an environment of price stability and healthy lending conditions.
“Yet, some challenges still remain for the region. First among these is the uneven growth across economies and within economies. This growth divergence among economies necessitates greater linkages in trade and investments, such that the growth momentum may carry over throughout the region,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the continued need for growth to be inclusive within economies makes urgent the adoption and implementation of policies that improve social conditions and livelihood opportunities. The success of such policies requires good governance, such as the sound management of fiscal resources,” he added.
Cebu Action Plan
As the Philippines hosts the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP) this year, Tan said the country has crafted the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), which takes into account the progress that the APEC has achieved throughout the years.
He said that with the CAP being a key agenda in the APEC FMP starting this year, the 21 Pacific Rim countries could forge an APEC community that has harmonized policies, rules and practices.
“With the Cebu Action Plan being a key agenda in the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP) this year, we can forge inclusive economies with financial integration, transparency, and resiliency, as well as infrastructure development and financing,” Tan said.
The Philippines first put the roadmap on the table for APEC discussion during a special meeting of senior finance officials held in Clark, Pampanga, in January. While the original version had three pillars, the latest version following the meeting in Clark now consists of four pillars: (1) financial integration, (2) fiscal transparency and policy reform, (3) financial resiliency, and (4) infrastructure development and financing. The fourth and last pillar was the addition.
Depatment of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Gil Beltran, who chaired the meetings, welcomed delegates and expressed optimism on the outcome of the meeting, saying, “The Philippines is honored to host all finance and central bank deputies of APEC member economies in our bid to build more inclusive economies. The four pillars we seek to develop in the Cebu Action Plan are firmly grounded in the Philippine growth story of economic reform, good governance, disaster resiliency, and heavy investments in infrastructure and our people.”
“The Cebu Action Plan is designed to power our shared future with the right foundations: the growing populations of our member economies stand to benefit from a more open, transparent, and resilient region with the infrastructure it needs to sustain inclusive growth trajectories,” Beltran added.
”We highly encourage you to work with us on our CAP initiatives so that we could bring about their intended benefits,” Tan said.
The finance and central bank deputies will discuss and agree on the specific measures to be undertaken to achieve each pillar. These measures will be presented to finance ministers of APEC member economies for approval.
The CAP will be launched during the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting to be held on September 10 to 11 in Mactan, Cebu.