Philippines urges APEC to expand trade, investment to reduce poverty

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan, May 23 (PNA) — The Philippines has called on other member economies from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to further expand trade and investment which is crucial in supporting inclusive growth and poverty reduction across the region.

At the opening Saturday of the two-day APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting here, Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo noted that APEC needs to take significant strides towards achieving this goal being an important regional bloc and a major player in international trade.

Domingo identified inequality and poverty as still the biggest challenges to APEC economies.

“But over the past 50 years, trade has proven to be a powerful engine of growth. Thus, we need to expand trade and investment and encourage economic dynamism to achieve strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth,” he said.

Domingo, also APEC 2015 MRT Chair, said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in poverty alleviation and for long-term growth of APEC economies and the entire region.

SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region.

The trade official thus underscored the need to bolster the abilities of the SMEs to take advantage of cross border business opportunities that will boost APEC economies.

“Let us note that recognizing the diverse characters and different capacities of SMEs is an important parameter in pursuing interventions that are reflective of and responsive to their needs,” he added.

At their meeting, APEC trade ministers will work towards the possible adoption of the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) outlining Philippine priorities on continuing initiatives that will contribute to fostering the MSMEs participation in regional and global markets.

The MRT meeting will also focus on two other main areas — support for the multilateral trading system and the regional economic integration which is a continuing agenda in APEC.

The Philippines is hosting 31 APEC meetings all over the country this year, and has adopted the theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” (PNA)