03 November 2015

Philippines urges APEC member economies to implement plan of action on food security
The Philippines is optimistic that the Iloilo Plan of Action on Food Security and the Blue Economy, adopted last month at the conclusion of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy, would bring tangible outputs as it strongly encourages member economies to implement the strategy to lay the foundation for healthy and resilient marine and ocean resources.

The Plan of Action consists of three main priorities initiated by the host economy, each with a set of actions building on existing APEC commitments.

The three priorities are: (1) Resilient Oceans, Coastal Resources and Ecosystems, and Sustainable Aquaculture, (2) Fish Loss Reduction, and (3) Agribusiness and Blue Economy. The Plan of Action has undergone several revisions, taking into consideration the valuable comments and suggestions of member economies.

The first set of initiatives pertains to concrete feasible actions to sustainably manage coastal and marine resources. This, according to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje in his closing statement at the policy dialogue held in Iloilo, will lead to resilient oceans and coastal resources and ecosystems, coastal communities, and sustainable aquaculture.

The next set of actions comprises important strategies geared towards the significant reduction of fish loss during harvest, storage, processing, and distribution marketing.

On the other hand, the third set of actions will lead to the development of an agri-business plan in blue economy in the APEC region that will open opportunities for inclusive economic growth.

The Plan of Action brings forth the integration of the work of the Oceans Fisheries Working Group and Policy Partnership on Food Security of the APEC. Moreover, this Plan of Action has strengthened the role of important partners in the private sector in shaping blue economy initiatives in the APEC region.

According to Secretary Paje, the Plan of Action emphasizes science-based conservation, restoration, enhancement, protection, and management of ocean, coastal and marine resources and sustainable aquaculture in the APEC region.

“It is expected that through these actions, we can optimize support for fishery productivity and better ecological services that the various marine ecosystems provide,” he said.

Paje further noted that the improvement of the conditions of ocean resources, together with the efficient strategies for reducing food losses in each stage of the supply chain, translate to more and better quality food for the people in the region.

Likewise, he said, the Plan of Action promotes business market development and open integration for small-scale fishers and fish farmers into global food chains in the context of the blue economy. (APEC Communications Group)

10 facts on APEC initiatives for micro, small and medium businesses
With the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”, the Philippines — as this year’s host economy — has put the spotlight on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

During their meeting in Iloilo City in September, APEC SME ministers noted that MSMEs have contributed to the growth trajectory of APEC economies, which, combined with the gross domestic product (GDP), almost doubled from US$16 trillion in 1989 to US$31 trillion in 2013.

To increase the sector’s contribution to the region’s economy, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said the Philippines’ initiatives for MSMEs will increase the sector’s participation in global value chains (GVCs).

Here are some facts on the APEC initiatives for MSMEs:

1. For the first time, the APEC is focusing on micro enterprises.

The Philippines has pitched the idea of giving emphasis on micro enterprises, rather than just SMEs, to promote inclusive growth in the region by extending to them the benefits of free and open trade.

2. The APEC will hold the first SME Summit this year.

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the voice of the business community in the Asia Pacific, will host the APEC SME Summit on November 17, aiming to enable the sector to innovate new products and services to meet the demands of the global market in the 21st century.

3. The rise of start-ups is changing the playing field.

Innovative business start-ups are seen as the next big thing in the APEC, as they have the potential to further drive economic growth and promote inclusive growth through fresh ideas and by tapping the digital economy.

4. The APEC recognizes the role of women in the economy.

The APEC Women and the Economy Fora, held in Manila last September, came up with a strategic plan to increase women’s economic participation in the region by achieving deliverables in five key areas: access to capital; access to markets; capacity building, health, and leadership; technology and innovation; and voice and agency.

5. MSMEs still face key issues in regional and global trade.

The APEC SME Finance Forum, held on the margins of the APEC SME Ministerial Meeting, has identified four issues that hamper MSMEs’ participation in regional and global trade: access to capital; access to know-how or skills; access to markets; and infrastructure, both physical infrastructure and intangible infrastructure such as governance, contract law, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

6. Trade facilitation is key to engaging MSMEs in global trade.

During the SME Ministerial Meeting, it was noted that the government should implement trade facilitation to help MSMEs meet global standards, instead of exempting them from complying with the processes.

7. The Boracay Action Agenda targets to address key issues of MSMEs and help them access the global market.

The Philippine-led Boracay Action Agenda, crafted during the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting in Boracay in May, has put in place concrete and detailed action plans for APEC member economies to increase the participation of MSMEs in GVCs. Under the Agenda, the APEC will address trade and investment barriers that hamper MSMEs, particularly by reducing and eliminating tariffs and non-tariff measures in the region.

8. The Iloilo Initiative supports the Boracay Action Agenda.

The APEC SME ministers have adopted the Iloilo Initiative, which supports the implementation of the Boracay agenda. It has two priority initiatives: providing a bigger voice and better opportunities for MSMEs; and advancing policy frameworks and international trade through the APEC MSME Marketplace, an interactive online portal that will allow APEC members to promote cooperation and linkages to develop MSMEs.

9. MSMEs need to be more resilient.

With the challenges posed by climate change to businesses, MSMEs need to be more resilient and should have the capacity to cope with natural disasters. The SME ministers have noted the role of public finance, such as credit guarantee systems designed for MSMEs’ operational continuity, rather than the rescue of financial institutions.

10. The Philippines uses the APEC as a platform to pitch MSME initiatives to the ASEAN and WTO.

Secretary Domingo has stressed the crucial role of pushing MSME initiatives in the APEC due to the forum’s big influence in the global economy. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where the Philippines is also a member, also targets to strengthen MSMEs and expand their contribution to the region’s economy. In the World Trade Organization (WTO), the country will push for MSME initiatives during this year’s WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in December. PNA (kc)

10 facts on Philippine-led initiatives on disaster response and mitigation in APEC region
The Philippines hosted the 9th Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum (SDMOF) in Iloilo City last September eyeing to elevate the discussions to the ministerial level in an effort to come up with more effective measures that would mitigate the impact of disasters in the region.

With the theme “Whole-of-Economy Approach: A Paradigm Shift to Adopt the ‘New Normal'”, the 9th Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum highlighted that disasters are not just a concern of an economy or small groups of economies, a sector or an organization.

Instead, disaster risk reduction requires a robust and sustainable inter-economy cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the primary goal of the 9th Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum is to endorse to the APEC economic leaders the proposed APEC framework on disaster risk reduction as a new paradigm to mainstream disaster reduction in the APEC agenda.

It aims to promote APEC-wide collaboration on disaster risk reduction, as well as decide on a common direction so that economies would be more responsive to the serious threats posed by stronger and more frequent disasters.

Here are 10 facts on disaster resiliency and mitigation after APEC member economies met in the Philippines to discuss disasters:

1. World Bank data shows APEC region had incurred more than US$100 billion in annual losses in the past 10 years because of disasters.

2. APEC could address effects of disasters through cooperative research, technology transfer, capacity building, and knowledge sharing.

3. In the past decade, disasters impacted on vulnerable communities with 1.5 billion people affected in different ways.

4. Also during the same period, there were 700,000 casualties and 23 million left homeless by disasters, putting total economic loss at more than $1.3 trillion.

5. Growing global inequality, increasing hazard exposure, rapid urbanization, and the overconsumption of energy and natural capital are major factors driving disaster risk to dangerous and unpredictable levels, according to United Nations 2015 report.

6. The Philippines pushed for business continuity planning to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) become more resilient against disasters and prevent economic losses.

7. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which represent 90 percent of the region’s overall business, are more vulnerable to natural hazards than big multinational companies. In the Philippines, SMEs provide a living for 65 percent of the labor force.

8. Typhoon Yolanda brought overall damages to the Philippine economy of around 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013.

9. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum (SDMOF) has adapted in the Iloilo meeting the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework introduced by the Philippines. The framework will be endorse to APEC economic leaders this month.

10. The framework, which was proposed by the Philippines prior to the 9th SDMOF, was based on disaster risk reduction programs and mitigation plans already being implemented by the country though the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. PND (as)