THE Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Sunday launched a web portal called the APEC Trade Repository (APECTR) to cater especially to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in its member economies and provide them better access to cross-border trade in the region.
Ceferino Rodolfo, assistant secretary for industry development under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said the web portal will serve as a common online reference tool on APEC member economies’ trade and tariff mechanisms with the objective of further promoting transparency, connectivity, information dissemination and trade facilitation.
Studies show that among the reasons businesses, particularly MSMEs, are not able to take full advantage of the benefits of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or Regional Trading Agreements (RTAs) is due to the difficulty they face in obtaining the necessary trade-related information.
Hence, the online database will support APEC efforts to enable businesses to access global and regional markets, SME integration in Global Value Chains (GVCs), as well as to address MSME barriers to trade.
The APECTR proposal was first presented by the Philippines in February 2015 and the APEC in September adopted the initiative to launch the database during the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting to be held here in Manila on November 18 and 19.
The APECTR was built on the existing APEC Web Trade Repository, and information including most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff rates, preferential tariff rates, rules of origin on existing free trade agreements, best practices in trade facilitation, domestic trade and customs laws and regulation and procedures and documentary requirements for imports and exports, Authorized Economic Operators, and other trade measures will be available in the newly launched database.
Ceferino also said the APECTR is in line with Philippine-led Boracay Action Agenda (BBA), which aims to facilitate the participation of the MSMEs in GVCs, The BBA was adopted by the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) during their meeting here in May. The APECTR will provide timely and accurate information on export and import procedures and requirements.
“In our consultations with MSMEs, easy access to trade-related information has been consistently cited as a critical barrier to their being able to penetrate export markets or being able to access alternative sources of inputs overseas,” Rodolfo said.
Therefore, the APECTR seeks to address this problem,” he added.
Rodolfo explained that the new virtual trade repository—which can be accessed through tr.apec.org—will be collaboratively maintained by the APEC Secretariat and the Philippine government with commitments from 20 other member economies to provide latest trade data.