ABAC highlights need for equity, sustainability, and opportunity in economic policies, agreements
Cebu, Philippines – Economic policies and trade agreements that will be proposed to leaders of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation will always consider equity, sustainability, and opportunity, said Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) 2023 chair Dominic Ng.
Ng spoke during a press conference on Sunday, July 30, held at the close of the ABAC III meeting in NUSTAR Convention Center in Cebu.
“We want to make sure that all the suggestions for economic growth will always be in consideration of the needs of the people of this region, specifically helping the micro, small, and medium enterprises, helping women’s businesses, helping indigenous businesses,” Ng said.
“And the idea is that whatever the trade agreement or economic integration plan that we propose will always be in consideration of those who need help the most,” Ng said.
He said that ABAC, being a business advisory council, will ask APEC leaders to consider potential climate change implications in economic growth plans. But APEC economies need to strike a balance between protecting the environment and making sure to help MSMEs and not make them collateral damage. Ng also said that in creating multilateral trade and investment collaboration, APEC leaders should make sure to find ways to create opportunities for small businesses, women entrepreneurs, indigenous enterprises.
He said that ABAC created working groups to look into policies that it can recommend taking into account the theme of equity, sustainability, and opportunity. He said ABAC also created a digital innovation task force to “make sure that we do everything that we can to fulfill our objectives.”
Ng described the ABAC III meetings in Cebu from July 27 to July 30 as “very successful.”
“We are deeply heartened by the level of commitment and effort demonstrated by all member-economies in addressing the pressing challenges of our times—be it food insecurity, health systems resilience, or climate change,” said Sabin Aboitiz, ABAC Philippines Member and Sustainable Growth Working Group Vice Chair.
In an interview with journalists, Aboitiz, who is the Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer, said ABAC allows countries like the Philippines to have a voice in such issues as the transition to sustainable energy. “We learned from all 21 countries and that’s a big thing for us. We are now able to give better advice to our government officials, to the President because we’ve learned from these discussions with so many people who are so knowledgeable and who are the top leaders of Japan, the top leaders of the US,” Aboitiz said.
The next ABAC meeting will be in San Francisco in the United States on November 12 and 13.
On issues such as the rapid rise of AI or artificial intelligence, Acting DIWG chair Wong Wai Meng said that they “foresee a fragmentation of policies across the world but with APEC we have the opportunity to address that to align everyone’s policies. How can we apply AI to generate economic opportunities to uplift all our economies,” he said. ABAC also highlighted an important initiative on cybersecurity – a toolkit deployed for MSMEs. The group also raised the need to increase enrolment to and programs on STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
ABAC also raised the importance of working together to make sure economies are resilient against future pandemics. Gunther Kraut of Munich Re said there is a 25% chance that the next severe pandemic will happen within the next 10 years.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon said it is important for economies to work together “to implement innovative solutions that can effectively enhance our resilience.”
“It is only through the collaboration of government, private sector, and the international community that we will be able to address our protection gap and effectively enhance our resilience to all types of crises and disasters,” De Leon said.
Official partners for the ABAC III meetings are Philippine Airlines as the official airline carrier, Summit Drinking Water as the official drinking water, Fili Hotel as the official residences for delegates and guests. ABAC III is also sponsored by esteemed organizations including Aboitiz Equity Ventures, AboitizPower, Ayala Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Alliance Global, Ayala Corporation, International Container Terminal Services Inc., GoDigital Pilipinas, JG Summit, SM Investments Corporation, and UnionDigital.