CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Angeles City — APEC senior officials, gathering in the First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) here, have set the momentum for future discussions significant to its member economies, SOM Chair and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario said on Saturday.
Del Rosario, who conducted a press briefing, said that through the meetings in Clark, the initiatives being pushed by the Philippines have garnered wide support from other APEC member economies.
These initiatives include the development of the APEC Trade Repository that is expected to contribute to transparency and trade facilitation.
“We have also set the stage for the development of an SME Action Plan to foster the participation of SMEs in regional and global markets,” she said as senior officials wrapped up discussions on Saturday.
Also, APEC members agreed to push for the formulation of the APEC Services Cooperation Framework to build the competitiveness of the services sector and provide a common direction and coherence to the APEC’s trade of services.
“We look to achieving all this and more by the end of our host year,” del Rosario said.
The two-day meeting of senior officials has set the way forward for APEC-wide policy direction, integrating all the work being done in APEC’s committees, working groups and other fora, she said.
The Philippines’ host year revolves in the agenda of inclusive growth, she said. And this is tied up to four major priorities that the country has crafted: enhancing regional economic integration, fostering SME participation in regional and global markets, investing in human capital and building resilient communities.
Del Rosario also commended the aggressive involvement of the private sector in advancing APEC agenda through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
In addition, key APEC initiatives such as the Bogor goals, the Leaders’ Growth Strategy, and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific will be carried over this year during the country’s hosting.
APEC officials will meet in August in Cebu for the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting.