By Leslie D. Venzon
BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan, May 24 (PNA) — Trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members Sunday agreed to endorse to their leaders the adoption of an action agenda that will foster the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the regional and global economy.
APEC trade ministers considered the ‘Boracay Action Agenda’ an action-oriented initiative that supports the forum’s ongoing work to address the barriers face by MSMEs in international trade and facilitate their access to regional and global markets with a strengthened focus on micro and small enterprises.
“We will complement APEC’s initiatives on promoting SMEs’ participation in GVCs (global value chains) with an agenda that will support micro and small enterprises as direct exporters,” they said in a statement issued here after the two-day APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting.
To advance APEC’s efforts on MSME internationalization, they agreed to recommend innovative actions on trade facilitation, e-commerce, financing and institutional support.
APEC trade ministers support initiatives to facilitate access of these companies to free trade agreements (FTA) or regional trade agreement (RTA) by simplifying and streamlining rules of origin (ROO) procedural and documentary requirements.
They said actions to streamline customs-related rules and regulations and assist in the compliance of MSMEs; and measures to widen financing options and develop infrastructure to facilitate lending to them are also imperative.
Trade ministers also underscored the important role of the information communications technology (ICT) and e-commerce in expanding internationalization opportunities for micro and small enterprises providing goods and services.
“We welcome strengthened information sharing and stronger coordination across relevant APEC fora to enhance complementarity of projects and initiatives and promote efficient use of resources in implementing the Boracay Action Agenda,” they added.
SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Philippines has been strongly advocating for the interests of MSMEs in global and regional trade.
Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo noted that dismantling trade barriers is a continuing effort for APEC economies.
“But I think the significant thing that was achieved in this MRT is that they put a little more focus in terms of assisting micro and small enterprises. We will continue the work in terms of pursuing more activities in strengthening the participation of MSMEs in global value chains,” said Domingo, also APEC 2015 MRT Chair.
During the two-day MRT held here, the 21 APEC trade ministers also discussed matters that seek to enhance the regional economic integration agenda such as efforts in line with the achievement of the Bogor Goals and APEC’s work on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). (PNA)