MANILA – The Philippines will focus on the theme of pursuing inclusive growth as it hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, who is also chair of the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), said the issue of inclusive growth is a concern not only of the Philippines but of the other APEC members as well.
“When PECC [Pacific Economic Cooperation Council] did a survey on the perception of the opinion leaders of the APEC economies on how APEC has been doing in terms of pursuing these growth areas, it came out that people were least satisfied with APEC’s work on inclusive growth,” she said in a media roundtable event held on Friday.
She said that in the Philippines, four key areas have been identified in pursuing inclusive growth: investing in human capital development; participation of small and medium enterprises (SME) in global markets; building resilient infrastructure; and enhancing the regional economic integration agenda.
Del Rosario explained that investing in human capital development is key because not only does it address the issue of poor education, it will also help improve the business sector.
“This is also a concern of businesses. They said that the skills that we produce in the universities don’t match the skills needed in the business sector,” she said.
Del Rosario said helping SMEs in the country, meanwhile, will involve boosting its role in the global supply chain, and identifying strategies to make it part of the production of multinational companies.
Del Rosario also highlighted the importance of developing the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), which she said will be used to implement structural reforms.
“For the Philippines, we want to pursue this by doing our own structural reforms, meaning we have to change a lot of regulatory structure in various sectors of our businesses…We are also going to pursue this through enhancing trade and services,” she said.
According to del Rosario, the growth strategy that will be tackled during the APEC meetings will also cover balanced growth, sustainable growth, innovative growth, and secure growth.
The Philippines last hosted the APEC Summit in 1996. This year’s summit was recently held in Beijing, China.
Del Rosario said meetings for the APEC will discuss issues on transportation, finance, trade, telecommunications, SMEs, structural reforms, energy, and joint foreign affairs and trade.
She added that there will also be high-level policy dialogues on science and technology in education, and food security.