DTI Chief bats for broader approach to SME and trade integration
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade vow support for Multilateral Trading System
At the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) held in Qingdao, China, 17-18 May 2014, the Ministers issued the Qingdao Statement describing actions for trade and economic growth across Asia Pacific. “We welcome the continuing progress made towards the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. We reaffirm our Leaders’ strong commitment in Bali in 2013 to strengthen and deepen regional economic integration and to progressively eliminate barriers to international trade and investment in this region,” the statement on the APEC website said.
The Bogor Declaration has, since 1994, provided guidance on how to achieve economic cooperation and growth within APEC by adopting “the long-term goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific”, which is commonly known as the Bogor Goals.
In his remarks during the MRT, DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo welcomed the Bogor Goals Report of 2014. “The report concluded that all APEC economies have made significant progress in reducing substantial reductions in barriers to trade in goods and services and in investment,” he said. However, he raised concerns on the rise of non-tariff measures. “These (non-tariff measures) adversely affect trade, especially on products and markets where SMEs play key roles as suppliers or exporters,” Domingo said during the meeting.
“The Philippines welcomes two areas of work which will further address the challenges faced by SMEs. First, addressing and removing non-tariff barriers, and second is in simplifying customs procedures,” he added.
Philippine SMEs account for more than 96 percent of all enterprises, SMEs contribution to GDP is between 30 and 50 percent and the contribution of SMEs to export is between 19 and 31 percent. The government continues to address SME development issues such as Trade Facilitation because this directly impacts on the ability of SMEs to surmount bureaucratic and costly customs procedures.
Domingo highlighted as well the importance of APEC’s economic and technical cooperation agenda. He noted that according to the World Bank, one additional dollar spent on Aid for Trade in the areas of trade policy and regulatory reform would generate about USD2,300 in increased trade in APEC. Aid for Trade is a broad concept of assistance to support developing countries’ efforts to expand trade that will support growth and reduce poverty.
The Philippines also welcomed capacity building efforts to further enhance participation in supply and value chains. Domingo stated during the meeting that he is looking forward to working closely with capacity building initiatives of China, US and Japan. China initiated the “APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value chains Development and Cooperation,” the US is working on a “Supply Chain Capacity Building Plan,” while PSU and Japan are conducting a study on a Comprehensive Analysis on Enhanced Resiliency of Cross-Border Value Chains.
On APEC discussions on services, Domingo welcomed Japan’s proposal on manufacturing-related services as the next generation trade and investment issue. “Services play a dual role, first as value chains on their own, and second, as enablers of global value chains,” he said.
Domingo led the Philippine delegation to the APEC MRT composed of officials of the DTI and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), including DFA Undersecretary Laura Del Rosario and DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo. (end)