Manila SME plan gets Apec nod
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines—The Philippines scored a major accomplishment on Sunday with the endorsement of its proposal to integrate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in global trade by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum.
The trade ministers of the 21 Apec countries endorsed the Philippines’ “Boracay Action Agenda” to globalize MSMEs at the conclusion of their meeting here on Sunday.
“I think that is quite an accomplishment for the chairmanship of the Philippines. There was broad recognition, it was a very popular [proposal],” said Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, who was the chair of the Apec trade ministers’ meeting.
“As soon as we floated it, I would say, so to speak, it caught fire in a good sense. We submitted a skeleton, but because of the very broad interest, a lot of economies put in very good comments so in the end, it’s not a Philippine statement anymore but a true Apec statement,” he said.
“We are going to endorse this agenda to the (Apec) leaders, but there are certain actions that have to be done to further push the agenda. Peru, who is [Apec] chair next year, talked to us and said they would like to further push this work so we will be coordinating with Peru on how we can have a good transition for the Boracay Action Agenda,” Domingo said.
He added: “A lot of those who were here said it’s the right time to do this. Twenty years ago, this would have not been possible, but because of automation, of e-commerce, and so forth, it becomes a lot more relevant to fold the MSMEs into the global trade agenda because there’s a platform to make it happen.”
Dealing with barriers
The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs is an action-oriented initiative that supports Apec’s current work to deal with the barriers faced by MSMEs in international trade.
Apec has identified priority areas for cooperation and action—trade facilitation, e-commerce, financing and institutional support, including for women-led MSMEs.
Through the MSME agenda, Apec members will facilitate micro and small enterprises’ access to regional and global markets.
“We recognize that MSMEs are an important force in economic activity, growth, job creation, community resilience and innovation. We will complement Apec’s initiatives on promoting SMEs’ (small and medium enterprises’) participation in global value chains with an agenda that will support micro and small enterprises as direct exporters,” Domingo said.
“Dismantling barriers is a continuing effort. The significant thing that was achieved in this [trade ministers’] meeting is that we have put a little bit more focus on assisting micro and small enterprises,” he said.
Apec will continue to pursue activities aimed at strengthening the globalization of MSMEs, and help those that are direct exporters and those that “can never be part of the global value chains,” he said.
“We have put in place many specific activities directed [at supporting] these efforts. A lot of economies presented a lot of ideas, from trade fairs to automation, to supporting the trade facilitation, because a lot of those efforts will help the micro and small enterprises,” he added.
Domingo explained that SMEs have been supported by the Apec for a long time, but more recently, there has been increased support for SMEs as part of the global supply chain.
“But if you look at the MSMEs participating in the global value chain, they are actually a minority and so there’s this big chunk of micro and small enterprises that are out of the loop and that’s what we’re addressing. Let’s continue to improve the participation of those that are part of the global value chain, but let’s also help the other 90 percent that are not part of it,” he said.
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