'Benefits from PH's hosting of APEC won't come instantly'

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 22 2015 12:30 AM

MANILA - The Philippines benefited from hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit this year but this will not be felt instantly, a business community leader said Saturday,

In an interview on radio dzMM, Guillermo Luz, co-chair of the National Competitiveness Council, explained that the Philippines was able to get a lot of benefits from the APEC summit, including the discussion on micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

"Before, the meetings all focused on trade. Big business issue lang 'yan, usually. Pero ngayon, the focus became micro, small and medium-scale enterprise. That is about what, 95% of businesses in the Philippines, actually all over the world," Luz said.

He also said that by discussing small and medium-scale enterprises, the APEC member-economies were also able to touch on different related issues, including education, health, inclusive finance and even disaster preparedness.

"Disasters affect the poor more than the rich, so if you want to improve the lives of the poor, you prepare for disasters better," Luz said.

"May mga benefits, pero unfortunately, sa totoo lang, talagang hindi siya instant ang effect," he added.

READ: What the Philippines got from APEC 2015

For Luz, it is also important for the Philippines to work on its own development, without relying on other countries.

"We also have to prepare for ourself, as a country ha, hindi lang APEC. Ang importante dito is, we act as a community, 'yung APEC, pero ang action, country by country. We should not look for others to help us, we should help ourselves, 'yung ang lesson diyan," he said.

He, likewise, said the country should take advantage of its strengths, such as its abundance of educated and skilled professionals.

"Where's the advantage in the Philippines? Hindi sa produkto eh, sa services, sa tao. We have 10 million people overseas, we are able to move our people overseas and perform work overseas, or that work comes to us," Luz said, adding that a lot of companies have also started outsourcing their services to the Philippines.

"Ibig sabihin, magaling ang mga Pinoy. That's an advantage. So, that can only happen when you liberalize the trade agenda for services. Hindi lang trade sa produkto, trade in goods, kundi trade in services. That's the new trend," he added.

The government, according to Luz, took advantage of this strength and pushed to have good trade agreements with other countries.

"We have to also take advantage of the opening, we cannot expect it to fall into our laps. Kung puro salita lang... we cannot expect it to be given to us eh, we have to take it. If we're too busy complaining and not taking it, we'll be left behind," he said.

When asked about the disadvantages of hosting the APEC summit, Luz said heavy traffic and flight cancellations are common during APEC meetings, regardless of the venue.

"Lagi 'yun sa APEC ah, I've been attending APEC summits. In was in Hawaii in 2011, delayed din ang flight ko sa Honolulu. I was in Vladivostok in 2012, na-cancel din ang flight ko. I was in Bali in 2013, delayed din ang flight ko. I was in Beijing last year, na-delay din ang flight ko."

He also added that these inconveniences are unavoidable since the country has to protect 21 world leaders.

"In every country, there's always a little inconvenience dahil sa security ng leaders. You have to expect that."