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Services sector takes spotlight at Cebu APEC meet

The Philippines gives the services sector its much deserved focus when APEC ministers, senior officials, and businesses meet at the first ever Regional Conference of Services Coalitions in Cebu on September 7.

Organized jointly by the Philippine government and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the event will bring together APEC officials, business leaders, small enterprises, users of services, and service organizations, in a dialogue to find ways to maximize the full potential of the services sector as part of the global value chain.

The role of services as a game changer in domestic and regional development, and how this can translate to development gains, will be at the center of the discussions in the conference.

With the services industry in the Philippines currently employing more than a million Filipinos, and the services sector as the largest contributor to Philippine growth figures at 56.7 percent of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2014, the discussion on ways to boost the services sector growth is a priority of the Philippines for APEC 2015.

The Philippines hopes to raise public awareness particularly among micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on the opportunities in the services sector including employment and improving MSMEs’ participation in global markets.

With the theme, “Charting a New Course on Services: A Call to Action in APEC,” the conference will look at how services have helped bring about major business transformation in APEC.

The services sector is said to represent the fastest growing sector of the global economy and accounts for about 60 percent of global output and employment, and nearly 20 percent of global trade.

The World Bank reports that services account for almost 71 percent of the global GDP.

As precursor to the conference, two public-private dialogues (PPDs) on services were held at the margins of the First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) in Clark, Pampanga in February, and SOM2 in Boracay, Aklan in May.

The first PPD featured developments, challenges and opportunities in Information
Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), Creative Industries, and Research and Development Services, while the second PPD covered Manufacturing, Environment, and Agriculture-related Services, as well as the role of services in achieving inclusive growth.

The conference is also expected to contribute to the development of the APEC Services Cooperation Framework, a Philippine initiative for an APEC strategy for services competitiveness, to be endorsed by APEC Leaders in November.

The regional conference is being organized in cooperation with the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), and with the support of the International Trade Center (ITC), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia (DFAT).

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