PH: MSMEs, next frontier for expanding trade and growth

CEBU CITY – “MSMEs will be the next frontier of international trade growth. By enabling MSMEs to participate as direct exporters or as service providers in the global value chain, we are looking at increased trade flows globally, and we are optimistic that there will be more people who will benefit from trade,” said Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo.

On the first day of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 3rd Senior Official’s Meeting (APEC SOM 3) in Cebu, member economies reported on the work that has been accomplished to support the implementation of the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (BAA-MSME). The BAA-MSME, endorsed by APEC ministers during the APEC Ministerial Roundtable held in Boracay earlier this year, aims to put “MSMEs, front and center” of the international trade agenda.

Eminent economist and dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics Ramon Clarete presented an analysis of the gains of economy with increased MSME participation. He cited more exports, diversified products, increased productivity, and increased firm competitiveness as among the benefits of integrating MSMEs in global trade.

“Like many developing countries, the Philippines will need to work hard to achieve the integration of MSMEs in global trade,” Rodolfo said. “The meetings and dialogues held in Cebu the past two weeks have yielded specific, concrete, and practical initiatives that APEC economies will implement to provide MSMEs wider opportunities to integrate into global or regional trade.”

The Philippines circulated the “APEC Implementation Plan for the BAA-MSMEs” which outlines the possible work streams and indicators of progress or success per priority action. According to Rodolfo, it is intended as a ‘living document’ to guide officials and also to draw from the expertise of sub-fora, committees and working groups to fulfill the Boracay Action Agenda’s objectives.

The draft implementation plan includes streamlining of processes for rules of origin (ROO) broadened further to include issues of compliance to regulatory requirements, capacity building, bridging information requirements of MSMEs when they try to access global markets, resiliency during disasters, among others.

Various APEC technical working groups, committees and other sub-fora have been meeting since 22 August 2015 in Cebu to discuss collaborations on trade, investments, and economic and technical cooperation undertaken by member economies. APEC priority areas for cooperation and action for the BAA are in the areas of trade facilitation, e-commerce, financing and institutional support, including for women-led MSMEs to support inclusive growth goals of the Boracay Action Agenda. (END)