Economies have been encouraged by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers to pursue facilitative measures that would expedite economic recovery after the COVID-19 global pandemic, mitigate health and economic impacts, fast-track the revitalization of the region’s economy, and fuel growth moving forward.
The 21 APEC trade ministers specifically directed APEC Senior Officials to develop a coordinated approach to collect and share information on policies, measures, strengths and learnings from the economies that could be translated into best practices for the whole region.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez signed the statement on behalf of the Philippines and endorsed by the Philippine Technical Board on APEC Matters (TBAM). Philippine APEC Senior Official and Undersecretary Lourdes O. Yparraguirre of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ will be conferring with counterparts on implementing the directive from the Ministers.
The statement of the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRTs) advised that the policies that may be shared include stimulus packages as immediate responses to the economic crisis and long-term recovery packages, taking into account recommendations from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
Deeply saddened by the human losses due to the pandemic, the MRT statement expresses utmost appreciation to the frontline workers of the world in protecting public health.
Concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable developing economies, the Ministers reaffirmed the utmost importance of collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region to hasten the fight against the pandemic. While halting the spread of COVID-19 currently remains the top priority of every economy, remedying the economic challenges must also be accorded a specific focus, the statement added.
“We recognize the importance of keeping our markets open and working together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, to ensure that trade and investment continue to flow in these trying times. In this regard, we will work to facilitate the flow of essential goods and services to fight the pandemic including medicines, medical supplies and equipment, agriculture and food products and other supplies across borders, and minimize disruptions to the global supply chains. We will also ensure that trading links remain open and explore ways to facilitate essential movement of people across borders, without undermining the efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. We will work closely to identify and resolve any unnecessary barriers to trade” the MRT statement explained.
The Ministers also expressed concern that any emergency measures should be “targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary and should not create unnecessary barriers to trade, and are consistent with WTO rules.”
Among the other highlights of the MRT statement are the following:
1. Encouraged economies to act swiftly in providing timely and affordable access to essential healthcare services, and implement measures to further enhance the resilience, scalability and sustainability of our healthcare systems.
2. Encouraged economies to take all necessary steps to ensure the most exposed economic sectors and workers are given support, and ensure that inclusive policy instruments are in place to fast-track their recovery. Returning workers to employment should be a high priority for all Economies.
3. Strengthen APEC’s digital agenda, including electronic commerce and related services, with fresh perspectives and innovative means to navigate these new realities together.
The Philippines and APEC
Eleven of the Philippines’ top fifteen trading partners are APEC members.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) contribute significantly to economic growth, with MSMEs’ share of GDP ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent in the majority of APEC economies.
Over 5.7 million out of 10.2 million, or 56 percent of Filipinos abroad call the APEC region home. They are responsible for about 57 percent of remittances making its way into the Philippine economy.
There are 176,368 Filipino healthcare workers in APEC.
APEC economies account for 84 percent of the total trade of the Philippines worldwide. Total Philippine exports to APEC comprise 82 percent of total exports worldwide. Total imports from APEC economies make up 85 percent of total imports from our trading partners.
About 64 percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Philippines come from APEC.
Visitors to the Philippines coming from APEC economies comprise 83 percent of tourist arrivals.
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