APEC 2015: BUILDING INCLUSIVE ECONOMIES, BUILDING A BETTER WORLD
How did the Philippines formulate the APEC 2015 theme?
Stakeholders and other significant actors adopted and utilized a set of guiding principles in crafting the theme for APEC 2015. Accordingly, the theme should possess inclusive, forward-looking qualities such as balance, continuity, relevance, resonance, and sustainability. It shall underline and advance both domestic and regional goals through building on past and ongoing initiatives while addressing present challenges and needs that relate to common concerns and interests. Moreover, the APEC 2015 theme should be realized by achieving medium term to long-term results.
Activities were also conducted to gather information, facilitate the exchange of opinions, engender support, and formulate policy initiatives and recommendations. Specifically, consultations were held involving government agencies, private sector and APEC Senior Officials to assess the level of comfort on the priorities and gather support for these priorities. Further, research studies were done in collaboration with the academe and think tanks to substantiate identified priorities and produce policy recommendations. Workshops were also organized with host agencies, including private sector, for the purpose of defining the elements of various high level meetings in 2015.
What is the theme of APEC 2015?
Under the Philippines’ leadership, the overall subject of APEC 2015 is the promotion and advancement of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region, hence the APEC 2015 theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” Accordingly, inclusive growth can be defined, described, and analyzed in three stages –domestic/national, regional, and macro levels.
- At the domestic/national level, the inclusive growth strategy of the Philippines is based on creating employment opportunities and jobs, involving and integrating the majority of the population in the economic and social mainstream, and alleviating poverty through good governance and domestic reform.
- At the regional level, the inclusive growth strategy of the APEC region is focused on expanding access to opportunities and enabling people to realize their full potential which will result in more productive employment opportunities, dynamic economic growth, and greater well-being.
- At the macro level, the inclusive growth trajectory of the APEC region is centered on bridging the gap between developing and developed APEC economies for the purpose of maximizing the benefits of a freer and more open trade and investment regime for each and every member economy.
What are the APEC 2015 priorities of the Philippines as host Economy?
In APEC 2015, the Philippines as Host Economy shall seek to mainstream and pursue its priorities into the agenda and economic policy thrusts of the member economies in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, the priorities were identified as follows:
- Investing in Human Capital Development;
- Fostering Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Participation in Regional and Global Markets;
- Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities; and
- Enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda.
What is the relevance of each priority to the Asia-Pacific region?
Each priority has substantial and unique significance to the member economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The priorities are then complemented with sub-priorities that would support their realization and serve as building blocks for the fulfillment of the overarching objective of APEC 2015 – inclusive growth. The implications brought by these priorities may have varying degrees of importance yet otherwise prove to be inter-related and interwoven in nature.
INVESTING IN HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
Human resources play a vital role in the attainment of the objectives of member economies, namely – enhanced job generation, improved productive employment opportunities, and greater economic growth. As such, human capital development will be promoted through discussions on education, innovation, and capacity-building that would substantially affect the future of growth and stimulate the growth of the future. The identified sub-priorities are:
- Promoting knowledge-based economies;
- Promoting science & technology education and innovation in APEC;
- Developing job skills needed by APEC business in the 21st century; and
- Internationalization of education/cross-border education to develop APEC-wide skills.
FOSTERING SMEs’ PARTICIPATION IN REGIONAL AND GLOBAL MARKETS
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are estimated to account for more than 97 percent of all businesses (99.6 percent in the Philippines) and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies.1 Acknowledging the significant contribution of businesses to job creation and economic growth, increased emphasis will be placed on the goal of integrating and internationalization of SMEs including their participation in global value chains (GVCs). The sub-priorities are the following:
- Removing barriers to SMEs, including entry to markets;
- Promoting inclusive growth through sustainable and resilient SMEs; and
- Advocating modernization and standard conformance among SMEs.
BUILDING SUSTAINABLE AND RESILIENT COMMUNITIES
The changing global environment, along with natural and man-made disasters, has brought tremendous Loss and Damage (L&D) and disruptions to the interlinked supply and demand sides of the Asia-Pacific trade. Moreover, disasters and disaster-related events negatively impact the image of member economies as stable, worthwhile investment destinations. Strengthened efforts will thus be focused on the resilience and sustainability of APEC business and communities affected by energy and food security. Increased attention will also be given to the preservation of ocean ecosystems and marine resources due to their critical importance for the Blue Economy-oriented member economies. The sub-priorities are:
- Creating and promoting risk reduction and management in APEC economies;
- Building resilient infrastructure;
- Fostering business continuity;
- Building SMEs’ resilience to disaster;
- Enhancing food security and the Blue Economy in the APEC region; and
- Promoting coastal management and marine conservation.
ENHANCING THE REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AGENDA
Currently, there are an estimated 42 Regional Free Trade Agreements between and among APEC economies. Negotiations are also taking place on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)2 and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)3. The long-term vision of the APEC is a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) that will establish a single FTA among all APEC economies. As host of APEC 2015, the Philippines is expected to support and continuously work on the regional economic integration (REI) agenda with special focus on trade in services, which amounts to almost half of APEC economies’ GDP. The sub-priorities were identified as:
- Strengthening regional economic integration through the Bogor Goals4;
- Promoting connectivity through Trade in Services, which will focus on the people-to-people and institutional connectivity within the region;
- Advancing financial markets aimed at creating stronger financial institutions within the region to better respond to prospective economic shocks; and
- Strengthening global supply chain/global value chains in the APEC region.
Learn about the APEC 2015 logo.
Prepared by the Foreign Service Institute in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs
Layout by Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office / APEC 2015 Strategic Communications Committee
Copyright APEC 2015 Philippines
1 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, “Small and Medium Enterprises” http://www.apec.org/Groups/SOM-Steering-Committee-on-Economic-and-Technical-Cooperation/Working-Groups/Small-and-Medium-Enterprises.aspx (accessed October 10, 2014)
2 TPP Members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, Viet Nam
3 RCEP Members: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam