7 June 2017 – MSME Development. This is the main thrust of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines as itpresented the priority work areas in the meeting with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez following the second ABAC meeting for 2017 last 25-29 April in Seoul, Korea.
“This is a very welcome development and a boost to the MSMEs that comprise 99.5% of the establishments in the country,” said Sec. Lopez. “The DTI has already been laying the ground work for strengthening MSMEs, especially with the participation of the youth and women. Now as we chair ASEAN this 2017, we likewise put the spotlight on MSMEs and entrepreneurship, as well as the sector’s integration in the global value chains.”
APEC Philippines, through DTI, is working on the development of an APEC SME Marketplace as a one-stop shop for SMEs in the region. This online portal is envisioned to provide useful information such as the MSME policies and regimes in different economies. Ultimately, the project aims to serve as a platform for SMEs to access and tap into global markets and transact with other players in the region.
According to ABAC Philippines Chair Tomas Alcantara, it is important to take advantage of this opportunity and ensure that SMEs in the country will optimize use and benefit from the system. “ABAC PH’s first project will help advance MSMEs interests by developing a pilot Philippine SME Marketplace. We are trying to make concrete outcomes by facilitating linkages between SMEs and domestic market first, then to two or more international markets. After that to ASEAN, eventually to APEC, and then finally, the global market.”
With the very broad and varying interests of the 21 APEC economies, the Philippine team will be keen in realizing its key priority areas.Aside from MSMEs, the group has also expressed interest in Infrastructure Investment. A specific initiative being discussed in ABAC is related to the Islamic Infrastructure Investment Platform (I3P). ABAC Philippines will look into how the Philippines can tap into the available funds from the Islamic banks in the region. Mr. Alcantara added, “With guidance and support from the DOF, ABAC Philippines will help develop a viable Islamic financial regime to benefit Islamic banks and investments in the country, ultimately to contribute to the development of Mindanao.”
“ABAC Philippines will work on identifying and enhancing the country’s comparative advantage and unique proposition so we can optimize and at the same time add value to our participation in APEC — now and on a continuing basis for the long term,” the chair concluded.