PH pushes closer Apec cooperation in services (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

The Philippines is confident that an initiative it is spearheading to foster closer cooperation in the services sector across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) will be approved ahead of a ministers’ meeting in Cebu next week.

In the Cebu meeting, Apec ministers will also work on and adopt a five-year roadmap post-2015 which is aimed at fostering inclusive growth not only across the region but also in each of the 21 member-economies.

In a statement Friday, state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the proposed Apec Services Cooperation Framework being pitched by the Philippines continues to receive wide support from the 21 member-economies.

We are working hard to ensure that the support and enthusiasm of economies and other stakeholders will continue and pave the way for its adoption. This will provide a more focused and coherent approach to how Apec undertakes its work on services, said Neda deputy director-general Emmanuel F. Esguerra, who also heads the Philippine delegation to the ongoing Apec Third Senior Officials’ Meeting.

The proposed Apec Services Cooperation Framework highlights openness to collaboration in services between Apec governments and the private sector.

This year’s hosting gives prominence to services given the sector’s potential and large share in the growth of the region. Currently, it accounts for 66 percent of the combined GDP [gross domestic product] of Apec economies, added Esguerra, who is also the convenor for the Apec Group on Services.

Esguerra said the services sector was particularly important to the Philippines because it is where we have a comparative advantage.

Last year, services accounted for 56.7 percent of the GDP and 53.6 percent of total employment in the country.

Within Apec, economies are eyeing reform and collaboration that will facilitate deeper integration of services into the regional economy, the Neda said.

Having a development agenda for the services sector and facilitating regulatory cooperation in areas concerning trade in services will be discussed at the Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting to enable easier knowledge and technology-transfer across industries and economies, Esguerra said.

In the meantime, the Neda, in a statement on Tuesday, said it would spearhead the upcoming Apec Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting on Sept. 7-8 in Cebu, which will focus primarily on addressing issues that impede inclusive growth.

This year’s structural reform ministerial meeting, only the second to be held since the first meeting hosted by Australia in 2008, will be chaired by Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.