At the last leg of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) discussions, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo, together with Ministers of 21 APEC member economies, met at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Pasay City.
“We have made significant contributions to APEC. Our work has gathered support for member economies to collectively work towards an Asia Pacific region that addresses gaps in economic development, sustains long-term and inclusive growth, and benefits our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.
According to Domingo, the Philippines has been successful in placing the MSMEs “front and center” of the APEC agenda technical and consultative meetings. The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises (BAA-MSME), broadly supported by trade ministers last May, and its implementation plan, endorsed by APEC Senior Officials during the Concluding Senior Officials Meeting (CSOM) held in Pasay on November 15, 2015, highlighted the first day of AMM discussions.
The BAA-MSMEs calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider opportunities to participate in the global market. Meanwhile, the BAA-MSME implementation plan aims to guide governments of member economies by identifying specific and concrete interventions, work streams, and progress indicators that should be adopted by stakeholders from the government, private sector, international organizations, among others.
“The Philippines will remain steadfast and persistent in implementing initiatives that boosts growth of the various sectors of the economy, engages local businesses, and generates job opportunities for local communities. We remain committed to our goal of inclusive growth by making the most of the benefits of regional integration and trade facilitation in our own economy,” concluded Domingo.
According to DTI, the year-long APEC meetings held in various cities of the country have resulted in identifying specific actions, practical initiatives, and programs that will enhance the BAA-MSMEs and its implementation plan. DTI led the development and launch of the APEC Trade Repository (APEC TR) to promote transparency and connectivity in the APEC region. The website provides exporters, industry associations, and policymakers timely and accurate information on tariff information and import and export procedures that will help address non-trade barriers.
The Philippines also made progress in stimulating green growth in the country, improving market access for environmental goods by reducing the tariff rates of 54 environmental goods to 5% or less. The initiative supports APEC’s efforts to build sustainable and resilient communities and to address climate change in the Asia-Pacific Region. This has also been attributed to an increase in the number of foreign companies outsourcing parts of their manufacturing processes to the Philippines and has resulted in the inclusion of the country’s photovoltaic industry in the environmental global value chain. The industry produces products that uses a method of drawing from the sun’s energy and converting it into direct current electricity.
Meanwhile, the Cebu Action Plan endorsed by APEC Ministers earlier this month, calls for initiatives to promote alternative financing mechanisms, specifically to improve access to finance of MSMEs. It will address common challenges of MSMEs by enhancing financial resilience of industries, developing innovative disaster risk financing and insurance mechanisms, and developing an APEC public-private partnership (PPP) Knowledge Portal that would serve as an online repository of PPP infrastructure projects.
During the AMM, Ministers finalized a statement embodying all these initiatives and programs that was presented at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) held from November 18 to 19, 2015.