Grandiose agendas aside, this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in the Philippines still recognized the contribution and sought to address concerns of smaller sectors.
An exchange of perspectives, particularly during the APEC CEO Summit last week, generated a host of ideas, from a new international organization devoted to small businesses to partnerships to develop the kind of workers needed by industries.
Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma took up the cudgels for what he called the “small guys”, proposing the retooling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) so that it also supports small firms and not just big conglomerates.
“We should build up a new e-WTO or WTO 2.0, ” Ma said, adding: “No matter what country you are , no matter what size of company you are, trade is a freedom.”
Small firms, in particular, generate the innovations that have moved industries forwards, he said.
With regard to human capital, meanwhile, speakers highlighted a mismatch in the kind of graduates schools produce and the positions industries want to fill.
Phinma Corporation President and CEO Ramon del Rosario urged businesses and the academe to form partnerships devoted to solving this problem.
“There is an opportunity to be involved in defining the competencies that come out in our educational system, even participating in the design of the curriculum, particularly in the professions we are interested in,” Del Rosario said.
Health Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said this should include health education, noting that this would lead to a more productive workforce.
“When a worker suffers from ill health, their productivity declines and it will lead them to spend money on medicine and treatment,” Go said, a development that could lead to increased poverty.
In a session focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shared the importance of encouraging the youth to help those in need.
Citing his country as an example, he said a fiber-optic broadband network aimed to encourage the youth to create applications that would help the so-called base of the pyramid.
Former Vice President of Taiwan Vincent Siew emphasized importance of education in creating innovations, noting that human resources are the “most important assets of a country.”
Governments should invest in people, he said, and also small firms that can lead the way in terms of research and development that will help promote sustainability