APEC Summit closes with vows to fight poverty, support MSME growth

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The Manila-hosted Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit  ended Thursday, November 19, with leaders of the 21 economies composing the bloc vowing to push the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises as one of the measures to fight poverty.

This year’s Summit focused on the themeBuilding Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World: A Vision for an Asia-Pacific Community.”

The road map towards poverty eradication also included promotion of free trade, ensuring food security, protecting the environment, enhancing financial resiliency, accelerating infrastructure  building, and advancing fiscal reforms and transparency.

Based on the Boracay Action Agenda, APEC will address barriers to help link up MSMEs to global trade. Trade facilitation, trade finance, e-commerce and institutional support were identified as priority areas of cooperation.

The Philippines, as host country, succeeded in including into the APEC agenda its call for strategic interventions for MSMEs.

At the opening of the Summit, Philippine President Benigno III, pushed for strategic interventions to help small businesses compete in regional and global markets in an environment of dismantled trade barriers where small enterprises are feared to further marginalize the sector.

The Summit ended with a declaration that recognized “that internationally-oriented MSMES can make substantial contributions to poverty reduction through employment creation, productivity improvements and economies of scale.”

“However, because the costs of doing business impact disproportionately on our MSMEs, especially in terms of cumbersome rules and regulations, we need to address the barriers to their internationalization and integration into global value chains.  Toward this end, we adopt the Boracay Action Agenda to globalize MSMEs and instruct ministers to implement actions laid out in the agenda and report their progress to us by 2020,” the communique added.

The declaration also cited the need to provide more opportunities for MSMEs, the enabling power of increased access to finance for the sector to expand and be more productive, and the significance of the Internet and the digital economy in the effort to achieve innovative, sustainable, inclusive and secure growth.

The leaders also welcomed the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform or the RAASR.

The RAASR, which will cover the years 2016-2020, also calls for an improvement in the ease of doing business across the APEC region by 2018 in five priority areas:  starting a business, dealing with construction permits, trading across borders, getting credit and enforcing contracts.

Notably, the Summit was attended by a number of young Filipino entrepreneurs, including Aisa Mijeno, who invented the sustainable lighting system powered by salt.

Photo: from www.telegraph.co.uk


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