MSMEs fight for attention as PH takes Asean lead | Inquirer Business
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MSMEs fight for attention as PH takes Asean lead

US cites country’s culture of innovation and e-commerce direction
By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:17 AM September 19, 2016

The Philippines will be making another round of aggressive pitch to boost the capacities and competitiveness of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit next year.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country’s chairmanship priorities would revolve mostly around MSMEs, innovation and technology, youth and women, and regulatory coherence.

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“We will push for technology as we believe this can level the playing field for MSMEs. We’re also pushing for e-commerce, digital economy and inclusive innovation as key economic priorities during our Asean chairmanship next year,” Lopez said.

“Our policy statement will be geared largely toward MSMEs—this will be the direction we [will take],” the trade chief added.

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Lopez disclosed that during the Asean summit held earlier this month, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) highlighted the Philippines’ culture of innovation and encouraged the country to look more into initiatives involving e-commerce and digital economy.

“We were recognized for our efforts to push for MSMEs, innovation, digital trade, and cross border data process, because for them, these can be the game changers for the MSMES,” he added.

It was during the Asean summit held in Lao People’s Democratic Republic that President Duterte formally accepted the country’s chairmanship while urging his counterparts in the region to be the Philippines’ “dynamic and vibrant partners.”

The country’s hosting of the Asean summit, with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc in 2017.

Lopez also disclosed the Philippines was also expected to reiterate its support for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—a comprehensive trade agreement being negotiated between Asean member states and six dialogue partners namely Australia, New Zealand, India, Korea, Japan and China. This bloc alone accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world’s trade and is projected to have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $21.2 trillion.

“We might not be able to conclude the agreement this year but there is another effort to meet in November, during which we are hoping to complete it. But if not, there is always next year. We (the Philippines) will be the chair then so we can push for it. This involves 16 economies in different stages of development and levels of openness,” Lopez said.

The RCEP is expected to be favorable for the Philippines as it can boost the country’s GDP by 3 percent, improve general welfare by $2 billion, and reduce poverty incidence to 23.3 percent over a 10-year period up to 2023.

The Philippines’ trade and investment flows within the region are likewise seen to significantly improve and benefit as well, although the RCEP may initially put key industries and product sectors at a disadvantage, according to a discussion paper from the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

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TAGS: ASEAN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Business, economy, micro small and medium sized enterprises, msmes, News, PH, Philippines
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