Bangkok, Thailand—On 17 November 2022, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual joined trade and foreign ministers from the Asia-Pacific region for the 33rd APEC Ministerial Meeting. The Department of Foreign Affairs was also part of the Philippine delegation and was represented by Secretary Enrique G. Manalo.  

 PH Trade Chief calls for observance of rules based trading system, inclusive and sustainable trade in APEC

During the meeting, Secretary Pascual emphasized that the world is facing many challenges including inflation and other uncertainties, thus, the need to enhance cooperation to achieve a strong recovery together with a view to promote sustainable trade and development.

In line with this, he highlighted the imperative need to keep the market open for trade and investment under a functioning rules-based trading system.

“Respect and observance of the rules-based trading system is a pre-requisite to a conducive open market and a crucial element in promoting trade and sustainable development,” Secretary Pascual said.

Further, he called on ministers to observe the decisions and agreements made at the 12th WTO Ministerial Meeting held last June in Geneva, Switzerland. He also expressed the Philippines’ commitment to implement the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, and its active engagement in the agriculture negotiations and the TRIPS waiver, among others.

Likewise, as a contribution to APEC’s work to build resilient supply chains, the Philippines is leading the initiatives on the safe passage of maritime crew. Maritime crew and seafarers are key actors of supply chains and are responsible in the delivery of essential goods and products. The DTI chief urged economies to implement “sound government policies and cooperative measures” that will provide for the health and safety of essential workers.

At the Philippine-led Policy Roundtable on the Safe Passage of APEC Maritime Crew, APEC members adopted a set of recommendations to ensure their protection. Maritime workers are vital to the Philippine economy. According to UNCTAD, the Philippines registered as the top seafarer-supplying country with an estimated 252,393 seafarers worldwide in 2021. In 2020, ocean-based industries accounted for 3.4 percent of the country’s GDP.

On the Philippines’ trade policy agenda, Secretary Pascual shared that the innovation-centered strategy of the Philippines aims to attain sustainable and inclusive development. Also, as the champion of MSMEs in APEC agenda, the Philippines spearheaded the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSME initiative to facilitate MSMEs’ participation in global commerce.

Notably, the Country’s advocacy on the integration of MSMEs into the global value chain and trade policy agenda has been gaining traction.  In addition to the discussion at the World Trade Organization (WTO), MSME is now one of the emerging subjects in free trade agreement negotiations.

Recognizing the important role of APEC, the Trade Chief also highlighted its long history of promoting structural reforms to achieve balanced and sustainable growth.

“By fostering transparency and competition in our markets, we can be more resilient to economic shocks and better poised to achieve macroeconomic stability and productivity”, the Trade Chief added.  The APEC Ministers convened in Bangkok, Thailand for the first time since 2019 amidst the backdrop of increasing inflation, energy and food crisis, and climate change. Further, the Ministers adopted a statement to outline future work to pursue in APEC 2023 under the U.S. Chairmanship.

Date of Release: 18 November 2022