Consistent with the APEC 2015 theme, ‘Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,’ the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) moves to mainstream the SMEs and MEs in the Second APEC SOM (SOM2) which will be held from May 10 to 21, and in the First Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting from May 23 to 24 on the island of Boracay, Aklan.

DTI Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Philippine Minister Responsible for Trade (PH MRT) said that the MRT Meeting will focus on the Philippines’ priorities on continuing initiatives to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro enterprises (MEs) through its APEC SME Action Agenda.

Chaired by DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, the MRT meeting will have Trade Ministers exchanging views on important trade and investment issues, which include trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and economic and technical cooperation to promote APEC’s 2015 theme of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The APEC Action Agenda on Growing Global SMEs calls for economic cooperation in APEC for inclusive growth through fostering participation of SMEs and MEs in regional and global markets. Emphasis will be on initiatives that are geared on the development and integration of micro, small or artisanal enterprises into the trading system. Putting the interests of micro and small enterprises on top of our economic priorities is what the DTI under the leadership of Sec. Gregory Domingo is advocating We are working towards galvanizing support of member economies to utilize trade facilitation, trade finance, and e-commerce as a means to develop dynamic and global SMEs and MEs,” Usec. Cristobal said. He added that because “SMEs as part of GVCs” have already been receiving a lot of attention from governments, and most especially from the large businesses, it is very important to include MEs and the artisanal in their focus.

In the Philippines, SMEs and MEs represent 98% of all registered businesses in the country, employ about 60% of the workforce, and accounts for about a third of the country’s GDP.

According to Cristobal, the Philippine proposal contained in the APEC Action Agenda on Growing Global SMEs takes into account APEC’s work on SME capacity building and internationalization/participation in global value chains (GVCs), and tries to build on this by now focusing APEC work towards SMEs as direct participants of cross-border trade. The Agenda proposes prioritizing actions on the simplification of procedural and documentary requirements for SMEs and MEs; identifying initiatives that will allow them to take advantage of e-commerce platforms and training; encouraging trade through the online publication of trade and tariff procedures and requirements; discussing ways on how to encourage their participation in Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) and trusted trade programs; exploring innovative financing options; as well as strengthening institutional support.

The Second APEC SOM or SOM2, on the other hand, will convene senior officials from each member economy to continue discussions in developing each technical working group’s key priorities and concrete deliverables leading up to the MRT.

Senior officials, who participated in the APEC SOM1 held at Clark, Pampanga in February this year, expressed their broad support of the Philippines’ priorities and initiatives –including building the competitiveness and productivity of SMEs and MEs.

“Trade should be convenient, efficient, and attractive not only for medium and large business, but also for micro and small enterprises. It should result into more productive employment opportunities, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and for its benefits to be spread more widely. That’s why we want to ensure that the outcome for APEC 2015 involves our trade facilitation priorities and, at the same time, be beneficial to all participants. Ultimately, we want to bridge the gap between developing and developed APEC economies by further opening trade and investment in the Asia Pacific Region,” explained Cristobal. (END)