ABAC Philip­pines to push four-point agenda in 2018 APEC Sum­mit

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The APEC Busi­ness Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil Philip­pines (ABAC PH) will push a fo­cused, four-point agenda to lead­ers and fel­low busi­ness­men as they join Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte and his top eco­nomic man­agers in the APEC Sum­mit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea next week.

“We will take ad­van­tage of the av­enues made ac­ces­si­ble in APEC as its over­all agenda is con­sis­tent with Philip­pine in­ter­ests. Our con­tin­ued en­gage­ment with APEC is crit­i­cal in achiev­ing the shared goal of in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able growth,” ABAC PH chair To­mas Al­can­tara said in the preHow APEC Sum­mit meet­ing with the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try.

The agenda, de­vel­oped with the guid­ance of DTI Sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez, ad­vances the fol­low­ing: (1) grow­ing glob­ally com­pet­i­tive MSMEs, (2) ac­cel­er­at­ing eco­nomic growth through in­fra­struc­ture, (3) cham­pi­oning the ser­vices sec­tor for a strategic global econ­omy, and (4) har­ness­ing dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion as the key to the fu­ture econ­omy.

These ar­eas, pre­sented in the Coun­cil’s let­ter to Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, are “strategic com­ple­ments to the Philip­pine De­vel­op­ment Plan, thus will cre­ate more busi­nesses, gen­er­ate more jobs, and in­crease in­comes to fur­ther re­duce poverty.” The let­ter con­tains the rel­e­vant is­sues high­lighted by ABAC PH from the rec­om­men­da­tions of key pri­vate sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the re­gion to APEC Lead­ers, listed in the 2018 ABAC Re­port to Lead­ers.

ABAC PH will fo­cus on the four-point agenda in their dia­logue with APEC Lead­ers and in dis­cus­sions with their pri­vate sec­tor coun­ter­parts in the re­gion. The coun­cil will also use the APEC plat­form to put the Philip­pine agenda on the map in APEC’s pri­or­i­ties for 2019 and be­yond.

Sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez noted that APEC will help in ad­dress­ing is­sues at home.

“APEC pri­or­i­ties sup­port the Philip­pine agenda. Open trade and in­vest­ment, in­fra­struc­ture, and in­no­va­tion will strengthen our in­dus­tries es­pe­cially our MSMEs, and the ser­vices sec­tor. Phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity will en­sure ef­fi­cient de­liv­ery of goods and ser­vices, and help ad­dress the avail­abil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity of items such as food.”

APEC is the most im­por­tant mul­ti­lat­eral and non-bind­ing trade fo­rum for the Philip­pines. In 2017, it ac­counted for 84% of to­tal trade of the Philip­pines with the world; with ex­ports to APEC mak­ing up for 82% of to­tal ex­ports, amount­ing to $56.3 bil­lion.

Struc­tural and reg­u­la­tory re­form re­mains key, how­ever, in un­leash­ing the po­ten­tial of the Philip­pines’ co­op­er­a­tion with other economies – such as in APEC.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Al­can­tara, “For the Philip­pines, at the end of the day, the is­sue is com­pet­i­tive­ness. While fis­cal re­forms are be­ing de­lib­er­ated as we speak a low­er­hang­ing fruit that should be ur­gently ad­dressed is red tape. If we make ad­vances on ease of do­ing busi­ness for for­eign and lo­cal firms, big and small, that will have tremen­dous im­pact to gen­er­at­ing jobs and in­creas­ing in­comes.”

The gov­ern­ment looks for­ward to gains from re­cently en­acted re­forms. “On ad­dress­ing red tape, we ex­pect the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness law with the es­tab­lish­ment of the Anti-Red Tape Author­ity and the Cen­tral Busi­ness Por­tal will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the pro­cess­ing time for busi­ness per­mits, ap­pli­ca­tions and other trans­ac­tions with gov­ern­ment,” Sec­re­tary Lopez said. PR

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