MANILA, Philippines – Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which employ nearly all of Southeast Asia’s domestic workforce, will take a center stage in next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
The Philippines, which chairs the APEC 2015, has put together several activities beginning Monday, December 1.
“We seek to underscore the significance of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country’s economy, and their role and integration in global supply chains,” Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said.
Leading Monday’s official APEC 2015 launch at the Green Sun Hotel in Makati is President Benigno Aquino III.
SMEs have been an important matter of discussion among Asia Pacific leaders as economist say countries, especially the ones joining the economic union in Southeast Asia, will draw tight competition in supply chains.
The looming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration aims to cut trade borders within the region, and as such, the economies will compete with each other, Asian Development Bank’s regional economic integration office Arjun Goswami said earlier in November. (READ: Understanding the future of ASEAN business)
Goswami said non-bank financial institutions in the country would be key to sustain the SMEs which need bulking up in terms of the value they add to their products.
Southeast Asia is host to diverse economies, from least developed countries like Lao, to developed countries like Singapore.
For the Philippines, Domingo hopes that the country reaps greater participation from the private sector, as well as gather new prospects “for local and foreign businesses to flourish.”
“We strongly believe that regional economic integration should work towards empowering the Filipino people and achieving inclusive growth in the country. Thus, we will work with other APEC member economies towards this goal and complement it with frameworks and policies that will benefit all in the Asia-Pacific region,” Domingo said
The APEC is an annual gathering attended by 21 Pacific rim member countries since 1989, with the first meeting held in Canberra, Australia.
This year’s APEC 2014 summit was held in Beijing, China, where various country and business leaders praised Aquino’s economic stewardship. – With reports from Mick Basa / Rappler.com
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