APEC senior officials decide to focus on small business, regional integration

By: Vanessa Lucero September 06,2015 - 11:24 PM

SENIOR officials of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies have decided to focus on developing the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and work further on regional integration.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura Q. del Rosario, chair of the Third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM3), said what is unique to the Philippine hosting of APEC is that discussions focused on communities and individuals, instead of the government and big business.

“What NEDA and trade have decided to do is to focus on SMEs and work on regional integration,” she

said in a press briefing after the SOM3 yesterday.
Discussions during SOM3 also revolved around building sustainable and resilient communities, education, human capital investment, disaster preparedness and providing quality infrastructure.

Health, as a factor to increased productivity in economies, was also discussed, emphasizing the need to prepare for pandemics.

In future meetings, del Rosario said the participating economies will continue to do more in terms of improving regulations to decrease the constraints on individuals or on firms.

To mitigate disasters and improve emergency response, she said the senior officials will push for better and faster movement of emergency goods and medical equipment between economies after natural disasters.

Economies are looking into an agreement that during times of calamities or disasters, several customs processes may be bypassed, such as taxation for medicines or equipment, she added.

Faster facilitation of services will also be addressed, in line with making it easier to bring medical services, specialists or doctors during emergency situations.

“In effect, we are opening up borders in times of disaster, and this goes of course with our own government’s response that it should be ready to take in outside help,” del Rosario said.

For the business sector, the meetings have revolved around trying to make rules for businesses easier, she said.

Businesses can sometimes be constrained by regulations, which should be uniform across economies to facilitate trade and promote exchange of goods and services.

“If you want to break into the international market, you have to know these information. The cleaner, the more transparent and the more high level your labeling is, the more consumers you will have,” del Rosario said.

Improving Internet connectivity was also discussed as an enabler not only for businesses but also for the academe.

Because the Internet has become a vital resource for people, more attention is being brought as well to cyber security and how to regulate the Internet to protect against abuse, del Rosario added.

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