23rd AEM Retreat opens in Manila on Thursday

MANILA- The 23rd ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Retreat and Related Meetings officially started in Manila on Thursday.

The event gathered top trade officials from 10 member states of ASEAN to discuss measures that would push for inclusive, innovation-led growth in the region.

As the Philippines hosts this year's ASEAN summit, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez chairs the AEM Retreat.

Lopez, as the AEM chair, said the Philippines had put forward in the meeting its priority deliverables in areas of trade in goods and services, trade facilitation, investments, connectivity, and innovation.

To ensure inclusive growth, the country is advancing mechanisms to integrate micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the global value chain.

MSMEs share 95 to 99 percent of all business establishments in ASEAN, generating between 51 and 97 percent of total employment.

The sector's contribution to gross domestic product in ASEAN countries ranges from 23 to 58 percent, while sharing 10 to 30 percent to a nation's export revenues.

In previous interviews, the Philippine trade chief said the Philippines would push for inclusive business models in ASEAN in order to link small-scale businesses to large companies.

Aside from enhancing trade, the bloc's economic ministers plan to create an environment that will promote innovation to businesses by enhancing science and technology as well as research and development.

ASEAN economic ministers that attended the retreat and related meetings are Philippines' Lopez and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo; Brunei Darussalam's Permanent Secretary Jock Hoi Lim; Cambodia's Minister Pan Sorasak; Indonesia's Director-General Iman Pambagyo; Lao PDR's Director-General Laohoua Cheuching; Malaysia's Minister Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed; Myanmar's Minister Maung Maung Win; Singapore's Minister Lim Hng Kiang's; Thailand's Minister Apirandi Tantraporn; and Vietnam's Minister Tran Tuan Anh.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh also joined the AEM Retreat.

The economic ministers have also met with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) on Thursday.

AEM led the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) pillar of the ASEAN integration.

The AEC aims for free flow of goods, services, investments, and labor in the region.

Through the integration, the 10 member states form a USD2.6-trillion economy, the 7th largest economy in the world and 3rd in Asia.

Source: Philippines News Agency