Many ‘firsts’ in PH hosting of Apec this year | Inquirer Business

Many ‘firsts’ in PH hosting of Apec this year

/ 12:09 AM November 18, 2015

THE PHILIPPINES has introduced several strategic initiatives in its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), deemed the “firsts” in the organization’s history.

Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong, who is also chair of the Apec 2015 CEO Summit, said the “Apec gathering is one opportunity for the Philippines to introduce itself to the world again in a big way by pushing for strategic initiatives that could be the first of its kind.”

Caktiong said this year’s Apec CEO Summit highlighted for the first time the issue of inclusivity, which means empowering and globalizing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by “involving them in the supply chain and value chains of many big businesses.”


Caktiong, who built the food chain giant, is known for developing several firsts in the food industry—popularizing a local brand that capitalized on the Filipino taste and culture, thus creating a niche market that has gone global wherever Filipino migrants and workers are based.


Caktiong’s Jollibee “walks its talk” with the company’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program, which involves procuring produce and crops from small farmers, thus providing them sustainable livelihood. He described the program as “a radical change in mind-sets as even our procurement people find this extremely difficult to implement.”


Climate change

Doris Magsaysay-Ho, chairperson of the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac), said it would also be the first time a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework would be adopted by Apec. This was initially introduced by the Philippines during the Apec Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum (SDMOF) in Iloilo City on Sept. 22, 2015.

The framework aims to develop climate-resilient and sustainable communities. Apec member-economies are prone to natural disasters considering its location near the Pacific Ring of Fire.



Women no longer behind

It would also be the first time that a woman would head not just the Philippine Abac, but also the Apec-wide Abac. Magsaysay-Ho is the chief executive of the Magsaysay Group of Companies.

According to its website, Abac is the “private sector body [that] presents recommendations to Apec leaders in an annual dialogue and advises Apec officials on business sector priorities and concerns. Abac meets four times per year, and Abac representatives also attend Senior Officials’ Meetings, the Annual Ministerial Meeting and the sectoral Ministerial Meetings.”

Magsaysay-Ho’s presence in Abac manifests a new determination to allow qualified women to assume leadership in a strategic and relevant organization.

Women issues also took center stage for the first time during the holding of the Apec Women and Economy 2015 forum last September, which had the theme, “Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Growth.”

Marathon meetings

It was also be the first time that eight full senior meetings were held this year on a slew of topics and issues aside from women empowerment. The topics included energy, trade, finance, transportation, education, small businesses, and infrastructure.

Guillermo “Bill” Luz, chief operating officer of the Apec 2015 CEO Summit, said there were many other firsts that happened this year.

He said, however, that many firsts were also initiated when the country hosted Apec in Subic in 1996. These include the first Abac meeting following a decision in the 1995 Osaka Apec Leaders Meeting to form a business council, and the hosting of the Apec-wide Abac secretariat.

Apec’s gains

Even if the Apec agreements are non-binding, the past initiatives have enabled Apec’s combined gross domestic product (GDP) to almost double to $31 trillion in 2013 from $16 trillion in 1989. The combined GDP of member-economies now accounts for 57 percent of the world’s GDP and 47 percent of world trade in 2012.

“The main reason for this is the steady reduction in trade barriers and tedious regulations,” Luz said. Apec’s total trade because of reduced tariffs increased over seven times to $22 trillion from 1989 to 2013, while the rest of the world grew only 5.4 times during the same period.

Apec’s Trade Facilitation Action Plan, which simplified customs procedures, also generated savings of about $58.7 billion for businesses. This is partly due to the installation of computer systems reducing processing time from six to eight days to only four to five hours on the average.

Benefits for the Philippines

Owing mainly to the fact that about 85 percent of Philippine exports and 70 percent of imports are being traded in Apec member-economies, the country’s world competitiveness ranking improved by five notches in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s 2015 Global Competitiveness study.

The Philippines is even projected to become the “16th largest economy by 2050,” owing to its huge population and rich resources. The country’s public private partnership (PPP) program is also “recognized as one of the best in the world, ranked 7th out of 21 countries in 2014.”

Nikkei Asian Review reported the Philippines is now considered the region’s next shipbuilding hub and has even surpassed its European rivals in 2010. By 2014, it was already the fourth largest shipbuilding nation after China, South Korea and Japan, it added.

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On the other hand, the globalization of MSMEs, by linking the small guys to value supply chains of global businesses, will also bring benefits and multiplier economic effects to the marginalized, particularly the farmers in the countryside.

TAGS: apec 2015, Business, economy, News

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