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The APEC 2015 Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM) began Monday, December 8 in Manila at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, after the weather forced organizers to move the inaugural meeting from Legazpi to the capital.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr welcomed guests amid gloomy weather, which he said was “in stark contrast to the bright prospects of APEC and its 21 member economies.”
Ochoa said the Philippines is looking forward to hosting the 2015 APEC summit, its first since hosting the conference in 1996, especially after the advances the country has made over the past almost two decades.
“In 2015, the Philippines sees APEC deepening its role as a cornerstone for regional dialogue, cutting-edge innovation, and constructive engagement. We envision dynamic APEC economies that will embrace all sectors and stakeholders within their people-centered economic agenda,” he said.
“We also envision a progressive region, both within and across economies, that collectively works together toward our common goals of shared prosperity and inclusive growth for all.”
Ochoa praised the chairmanship of China as well, which hosted the 2014 APEC summit just last month in Beijing.
“Under China’s chairmanship, the APEC’s strategic relevance in the region has been advanced, as embodied in the 2014 APEC Leaders’ Declaration, and we shall strive to build on these gains in our hosting year,” he said.
Ochoa said the 2015 theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” was chosen by the country “to orient this year’s APEC toward making certain that the sustained growth of our economies will result in tangible benefits on the lives of all our peoples.”
“We are confident that with our country’s remarkable turnaround in recent years, our story and our experiences can certainly enrich the discussions on this subject,” he said.
The Aquino administration continues to work on advancing inclusive growth, a top priority of President Benigno Aquino III before he steps down from office in 2016.
ISOM, the first of a series of meeting leading up to the APEC 2015 Summit in Manila, allows senior officials to discuss the host priorities for 2015. Day 1 of the meeting has 7 sessions on the following topics:
- 21st Century Megatrends and Challenges
- Towards an Inclusive Growth Strategy for the APEC region
- Regional Economic Integration and the Multilateral Trading System
- Regional Economic Integrations and Inclusive Growth
- SMEs and Inclusive Growth
- Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth
- Sustainability and Resilience and Inclusive Growth
On Day 2, officials will have two constructive dialogue sessions.
About 25 speakers from all over the region are expected to speak at the meeting including Asian Development Bank representatives, ambassadors, former government officials and members of the APEC Business Advisory Council among others.
Among them are Dr Bernard Hoekman of the European University Institute; Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala of the Ayala Group of Companies; Diane Wang, co-founder and CEO of DHGate.com; Ramon R. Del Rosario Jr of the Philippine Business for Education; Professor Nobuaki Hamaguchi of the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration; and Albay Governor Joey Salceda.
Ochoa encouraged guests to explore the Philippines in the upcoming year as they participate in the meetings leading up to the final summit.
“We also encourage you to take advantage of our hosting year to enojy what our country has to offer. We hope to bring you some of our splendid beaches and to show you some of our magnificent vistas during the succeeding meetings,” he said.
“But more importantly, we hope you will bear witness to our greatest resource: our people, who are kind, hospitable, compassionate, and talented beyond measure.”
There will also be APEC events in Boracay and Iloilo City in Western Visayas; Tagaytay City in Southern Tagalog; Metro Cebu in Central Visayas; Bagac, Bataan, and Clark, Pampanga, in Central Luzon; and Metro Manila itself. (READ:2015 APEC Summit to keep PH ‘top of mind’) – Rappler.com