Manila, The Philippines, 18 November 2015 — Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III opened a dialogue between APEC Leaders and regional business representatives in Manila on Wednesday by calling for greater collaboration between the region’s governments and businesses to ensure stability needed to foster economic opportunities for more people in the changing global environment.
The dialogue examined policy recommendations from the APEC Business Advisory Council and set the tone for the 2015 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting that will take place here on Thursday. Guided by President Aquino as Chair, Leaders will together flesh out directives for the 21 APEC member economies to take forward over the coming year to boost trade and inclusive, sustainable growth among them.
“Confronted by an increasingly complex, interconnected, and unpredictable world, we are all challenged to look at trends that may cause disruption, so that we can act with resilience and craft a response with inclusivity at its core, ensuring no one is left behind,” said President Aquino.
“Regardless of the sector you belong to, the work of innovation begins with the correct appreciation of the problem, which leads to the correct crafting of the solution,” he continued. “Policymakers must provide the environment that nurtures this.”
Areas of focus included next steps towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, or FTAAP, a concept introduced by APEC Business Advisory Council to APEC members in 2004 by the private sector. The pursuit of region-wide growth through services market opening and development; infrastructure finance expansion; support for micro, small and medium enterprise growth; and the promotion of sustainable development and the rule of law were additional points of attention.
“Global megatrends are changing the landscape and are creating new challenges on economies, business and society as a whole,” explained Doris Magsaysay-Ho, 2015 Chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council, or ABAC, pointing to demographic and social change, rapid urbanization, global economic power shifts, climate change and resource scarcity, and the impact of new technology. “Consumer demands are rapidly changing, compelling everyone to review business models and delivery systems.”
“We applaud the recent conclusion of the Trans Pacific Partnership, call for the completion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and are encouraged by the progress of the Pacific Alliance as important pathways to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific,” Magsaysay-Ho, noted, adding that ABAC is now working to identify next generation business and investment issues so that the FTAAP becomes responsive to the needs of business big and small alike.”
ABAC representatives suggested APEC members increase their focus on the services sector as the single biggest contributor to employment and output in the region. They underscored that most barriers to services trade are structural in nature and require ambitious policy and regulatory reform while noting ABAC’s contribution to a new services cooperation framework on the table among APEC members.
“Global megatrends offer new growth opportunities especially for small and medium enterprises,” said Magsaysay-Ho, advocating for inclusive business models and a policy environment to support the internationalization of firms in the sector through e-commerce. “Unlocking the remarkable potential of entrepreneurs needs a robust innovation ecosystem.”
“We are offering to serve not just as a resource for knowledge-sharing but as partners in developing policies and action that will usher in an age of shared prosperity for APEC and the region’s people, she concluded.”