November 18-19, 2015 – The Philippines hosted the APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting the second time around, its first was in 1996. The APEC Summit was concluded in Manila with at least 21 APEC-members arrived to attend the event. There were at least four priority points set as its main purpose for the said meeting like Building inclusive economies, Fostering the participation of MSMEs, Building sustainable an resilient communities; and Enhancing the regional economic integration agenda. Although, there were mixed reviews from the public towards the result of the summit, all the priority points were met when the summit concluded.
The Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a group of Pacific Rim countries who meet with the purpose of improving economic and political ties within the region. Leaders or Head of the government of all APEC members meet annually in a summit called “APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting” rotating in location among APEC member nations. APEC is not only famous of its tradition by having the leaders wear local national costume of host nations but its standing towards wide range issues.
During the summit, the public was curious with the APEC members’ take on the West Philippine Sea issue between China and the Philippines. US President Barack Obama took the side of the Philippines regarding the said issues, while most of the APEC members’ wish that both the Philippines and China could settle it soon. Furthermore, the outcome of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting solidified their strong outlook on fighting terrorism, economic growth, fighting poverty and climate change. Among all points that were derived from the summit meeting, new economic strategies were also discussed such as enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda – APEC will focus on trade collaboration and association especially in area that will build up trade in ease of doing business and services. Structural reform, financial inclusion measures, and good governance were situated high on the meeting to maintain efforts to create a general production and rate set in the APEC region. In Fostering SMEs’ Participation in Regional and Global Markets, There was an acknowledgment of the SMEs prepatent to create employment and provide as the driving force of economic developments. SMEs were a front priority on the “trade liberalization and facilitation agenda as SMEs compromise more than 90 percent of the business in many of the economies”. Thus, they are the vital participant in regional economic integration predominantly in deriving the betterment of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)/Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). To further support this agenda, APEC will line up its “capacity-building initiatives to the needs of SMEs” and will continuously support SMEs throughout trade collaboration measures to tie SMEs to global value chains. Thus, APEC will support their full involvement in markets by removing “barriers to entry and promoting greater access to finance, technology, training programs and tools”.
In addition, the APEC summit highlighted the importance of investing in human capital development in order to persistently accomplish its broad-based growth. As a result, APEC nations agreed to continually put effort in training skilled and adaptable APEC communities. Moreover, all APEC members agreed on Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities as the changing global environment has formulate high risk typhoons, earthquakes and health pandemics to name a few. Thus, this situation pushed all APEC members to make resilience, sustainability and food security as top priorities. President Benigno Aquino III said that the factors outside trade will have an unquestionably affect in economic growth but it’s vital to find “a way to sustain and strengthen quality growth, particularly by considering policy responses that promote inclusivity, while addressing the current domestic and external challenges to APEC's growth."
To sum up, The 2015 APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting was overall a success as it was able to meet its priority points while continuously strengthening ties between APEC members. Additionally, the APEC meeting paved way for the Philippines to gain further assistance within its government as Mexico will help the Philippines to combat drug trafficking, USA will be turning over a research vessel and a coast guard cutter to the Philippines to boost Navy competence while Japan is still in talks regarding transfer of military equipment to the Philippines. Likewise, South Korea sends its support for the Philippines's military modernization program while there was an agreement on the “Establishment of a Philippine-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation” that will aid in facilitating and promoting trade and economic collaboration between Russia and Philippines. Lastly, both the Philippines and New Zealand agreed to the needs of further development towards cooperation in the public-private partnership projects and other technological advancement including electrical equipment, automotive, engineering services and infrastructures.
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