08 December 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

AMID the backdrop of uncertainty on the global economy, the APEC Business Advisory Council Philippines (Abac PHL) reaffirms its push for its four-point agenda. This is in response to President Duterte’s call for inclusive globalization during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea earlier in November.

“Now more than ever, world economies are being challenged to bring in the benefits of free and open trade, especially to the developing economies and for people at the margins. The global trading system can definitely do more, but we need to work on strategic areas with our economic partners, such as those from Apec, to unleash growth at home and the rest of the region,” Abac PHL chairman Tomas Alcantara said.

The council advanced the following areas in various Apec-related meetings with other business leaders and government officials. These include growing globally competitive micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); accelerating economic growth through infrastructure; championing the services sector in the global economy; and harnessing digital innovation as the key to the future economy.

To grow globally competitive MSMEs, ABAC PHL will work more closely with the Department of Trade and Industry to help provide an effective enabling ecosystem for MSMEs. These include enhancing availability and accessibility of finance, boosting their capacity for scale, and strengthening linkages with domestic and international value chains.

Abac PHL supports its Asean peers—Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in promoting Islamic infrastructure investment. It is continuing its ongoing work with counterparts such as Malaysia to explore other financing mechanisms to support the government’s infrastructure drive. It also looks forward to collaborating with Apec bodies to tap the catastrophe bonds, which is critical for a disaster-prone economy like the Philippines.

The services sector has been the major driver of productivity and economic growth in the Philippines and in the region. Abac PHL will continue to engage the government to facilitate trade in services by implementing structural reforms, and enhancing physical, institutional and people connectivity. The council is also studying key subsectors that have great potential for bringing in more investments and creating more jobs.

ABAC PHL also emphasized the central role of education and training in developing a future-ready workforce. The council emphasized that the Philippines must build on its large and young population as this segment is critical to the digital economy.