World Economy

Philippines Backs Support for MSMEs at APEC Meet

Philippines Backs Support for MSMEs at APEC MeetPhilippines Backs Support for MSMEs at APEC Meet

The Philippines’ top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trade has been a powerful growth engine in the 21 economies comprising the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), where Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for over 97 percent of all businesses, said Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregorio Domingo, AP reported.

Manila is pushing for greater support for the integration into the global trade and value chain of MSMEs, which provide jobs to more than half the workers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Domingo opened an APEC trade ministers’ meeting Saturday on the central Philippine resort island of Boracay, one of many meetings hosted this year by Manila before the APEC summit in November, a government statement said.

Domingo said these small businesses “play an important role in poverty alleviation and long-term growth” in each of the APEC economies and the region as a whole.

Such enterprises represent 98 of all registered businesses in the Philippines, employ about 60 percent of the nation’s work force and account for about one-third of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry.

The Philippines is seeking the adoption the “Boracay Action Agenda” to globalize MSMEs, which Manila says will foster the participation of these enterprises in regional and global markets.

 Simplification of Procedures

The move will prioritize the simplification of procedures and documentary requirements for such enterprises, allow them to take advantage of electronic commerce platforms, encourage trade through online publication of tariff procedures and requirements, provide possible innovative financing, and strengthen institutional support, the Trade Department said.

The trade ministers also will discuss support for the multilateral trading system and regional economic integration and start groundwork for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, it said.

Domingo has said the APEC trade ministers are expected to come out with the terms of reference for the study of the free trade area within the year so the study can commence in 2016.

Domingo said at least three trade agreements are on the table for the Philippines. Trade implications of territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea are not in the agenda, but are also expected to be taken up during the meeting.

Discussions conclude Sunday ahead of the trade agenda for world leaders during the APEC meeting later this year.

APEC trade ministers will also work towards the possible adoption of the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

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”.