PHL pushes e-commerce platform for MSMEs at APEC trade meeting

By Leslie D. Venzon

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan, May 22 (PNA) — The Philippines will propose an e-commerce platform to be used by the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies that can help them participate in the global trade during the APEC trade meeting here on May 23 to 24.

Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo pointed out that the current rules of trade make it difficult for these companies to participate in the global trade, especially in availing of free trade agreements (FTA) benefits.

During the pre-Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) press briefing here, Domingo said that most FTA requires a certificate of origin for them to export and avail of a zero tariff rate, a cumbersome procedure especially for smaller companies.

He said an e-commerce platform, which can be an existing one, can incorporate these rules “so that these become simplified.”

“Not all of them can actually participate in global trade, they might not have the right quality, the right product. For those of them who can qualify to export, we should really develop a channel for them to be able to do it in a really easy manner,” he noted.

Domingo said that outside few agriculture products, beneficiaries of the global value chain (GVC) are primarily medium enterprises which have the sophistication to deal with the demands of being part of these value chains.

“In the Philippine case, MSMEs account for over 95 percent of all enterprises. And many of them are left out in terms of being able to participate in global trade,” he added.

Apart from e-commerce platform initiative, the trade official said that APEC trade ministers will also discuss efforts to increase the level of automation and support for the trade facilitation agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) aimed at simplifying the process in cross border trade.

“We need to come up with programs and new policies and new rules, new regulations to be able to make it easier for the MSMEs to participate in global trade,” he said.

Domingo expressed optimism that APEC trade ministers will adopt the Boracay Action Agenda to foster MSMEs’ participation in regional and global markets, a Philippine priority for this meeting.

“We have spent considerable efforts on this, it is not yet completed, discussions are still ongoing. And we are hoping that a strong statement or decision can come from the MRT… So that a statement can also be made in time or a decision be made in time during the Leaders’ Meeting in November,” he added.

Further, Domingo said the MRT meeting will also focus on support for the multilateral trading system and the regional economic integration.

“We hope that the (trade) ministers will adopt and express support, which have been done before, for the conclusion of the trade facilitation agreement and also the conclusion of the Doha round,” he added. (PNA)