The Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, together with officials of the DTI and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), will represent the Philippines at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) First Senior Officials Meeting (SOM1) scheduled from 03-04 March 2016 in Lima, Peru. As APEC 2016 host, Peru has chosen the theme of “Quality Growth and Human Development,” focusing on the advancement of regional economic integration and quality growth, enhancement of the regional food market, modernization of MSMEs, and human capital development.

“We will build on our work last year and continue our advocacy to mainstream micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Asia Pacific trade.  The Peru meetings will give us the opportunity to discuss the progress of the implementation of the Boracay Action Agenda among APEC member economies,” said Rodolfo who is the Philippines’ SOM1 Lead.

Last year, the Philippines led APEC member economiesin the ratification of the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs (BAA-MSMEs) and its implementation plan. The Action Agenda aims to strengthen APEC actions to harness opportunities presented by open and increasingly integrated markets, allowing as well these enterprises to participate more significantly in global trade. The implementation of the Action Agenda calls for initiatives that utilize trade facilitation, trade finance, and e-commerce as a means to build globalized MSMEs.

In Peru, the Philippines will propose a reporting template for APEC committees, working groups, and sub fora to assess and monitor the progress of the implementation of the BAA-MSMEs from 2016 until 2020. A stock-taking and midterm review of member economy initiatives in support of the BAA-MSMEs is scheduledin 2018.

Rodolfo said that the Philippines will also encourage member economics to update and explore ways to expand available information of the APEC Trade Repository (APEC TR). The APEC TR, a single online reference point containing members’ trade and tariff information, was launched in the Philippines last year.

“Transparency through enhanced information sharing is a priority.  The development of the APEC TR aims to expand available information making it more useful and relevant to businesses, regardless of its size,” added Rodolfo.

The DTI said that the Philippines will continue to advance regional cooperation in services through the APEC Services Cooperation Framework (ASCF). The ASCF will support the DTI’s ongoing work to build the competitiveness of the local enterprises in the services sector, particularly among SMEs. Services SMEs provide legal services, accounting, engineering, and other technical services that are vital inputs in the global value chains (GVCs).

“Concrete measures, pressing for greater participation of MSMES in regional and global markets either as direct exporters or as providers of vital support and complementation to larger enterprises, will strengthen the foundation for balanced, sustained, and inclusive growth inour country,” concluded Rodolfo.

In the Philippines, MSMEs are considered the backbone of economic development and key stakeholders in regional economic integration, whether as direct exporters or participants in GVCs. MSMEs account for over 99 percent of businesses and employ more than 50 percent of the country’s workforce.