MANILA, Philippines – Senior officials from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation have agreed on the priorities to be pursued by APEC in 2015.
On the final day of the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM) on Tuesday, December 9, Philippine organizers said that APEC member countries backed the Philippines’ proposed agenda for the 2015 APEC Summit in Manila.
“Our theme of inclusive growth resonated with them. It’s an objective that they themselves saw as necessary to their own economies,” Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario said on Tuesday.
Del Rosario, chair of the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), said the attendees of the inaugural meeting in Manila agreed on the 4 points to achieve their goal of inclusive growth: investing in human capital development, building sustainable and resilient communities, enhancing regional economic integrations, and fostering the participation of small and medium enterprises in the regional and global economy.
She also mentioned key points APEC hopes to achieve together in the future which she described as the “nuts and bolts” of what they are working on, among them:
- 1 million APEC citizens for cross-border education by 2020
- 10% reduction in the cost of supply chain connectivity
- 25% improvement on ease of doing business by 2015 by focusing on starting businesses, getting credit, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and dealing in permits
- Convergence or uniformity in regulatory approval procedures for medical projects by 2020
- Conservation of 10% of coastal and marine areas
- Double the share of renewable energy in the region by 2030, from 2010 levels
The ISOM was the first of a series of meetings the Philippines will be hosting in the lead up to the APEC 2015 summit.
Steps towards goals
In a statement released Wednesday, December 10, APEC Philippines talked about the ways in which APEC economies have agreed to fulfill their goals.
To enhance regional integration, APEC economies agreed to do the following:
- Organize and lead a task force to undertake a two-year collective strategic study on issues related to the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)
- Open a new technical capacity building initiative in pursuit of the FTAAP
- Reduce customs bottlenecks for goods at borders
- Easing service trade barriers and strengthening financial institutions
On developing SMES, APEC plans to address hurdles to “starting a business, getting credit, dealing with permits, enforcing contracts and trading across borders,” and by facilitating “deeper cooperation in areas like structural reform and fighting corruption.”
“Actions will moreover center on promoting SME sector modernization, standards conformance, commercial innovation, global production chain integration and increased value-added trade,” the statement said.
In terms of human capital development, aside from promoting educational exchanges through APEC scholarship and internship initiatives, APEC’s focus will also be on “cultivating an APEC-wide women’s entrepreneurship network to drive women-led business growth; training in areas like financial services and internet use; and finalizing Information Technology Agreement expansion to widen access to products that support academic and professional development.”
To build sustainable and resilient communities, “APEC will endeavor to reduce tariffs on 54 environmental goods to 5% or less by the end of 2015 and pursue further steps to double renewable energy in the region by 2030, from 2010 levels, cut carbon emissions and raise energy efficiency.”
The statement said initiatives will also “center on improving natural disaster risk reduction, food security and the management of health threats, as well as implementing APEC’s Connectivity Blueprint and Multi-Year Plan on Infrastructure Investment and Development.”
In her briefing, Del Rosario said more concrete actions on how these will be achieved have yet to be fleshed out.
“They (the APEC economies) themselves will introduce initiatives to make them more concrete…on how they will be done,” she said.
The next meeting will be in Clark Freeport in Pampanga from January 26 to February 7, 2015. – Rappler.com