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Phl gov’t cites vital role of the private sector in economic recovery and growth

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By Alithea De Jesus

With the Philippine government’s goals of more job opportunities for Filipino people and accelerating economic recovery and growth, the need to bolster public-private partnerships to achieve these goals is necessary.

In the 3rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting hosted by the Philippines on July 28, 2023, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual took the opportunity to highlight the need for the government and the private sector to work collaboratively in addressing issues crucial to economic recovery and growth.  

In his speech during the opening plenary, Secretary Pascual said, “The partnership between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) is not just something we value, it is a cornerstone of our vision for the future. It exemplifies the power of synergy—when government and business come together and connect, we lay the groundwork for a trade environment that is not just functional, but inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. This dynamic collaboration enables us to stay agile and responsive as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of business and technology.” 

In line with this year’s theme, “Equity, Sustainability, Opportunity,” ABAC Philippines focused on helping communities build back stronger through collective efforts. With critical goals to pursue, Secretary Pascual called for stronger partnership and collaboration among APEC Member Economies in crafting policy reforms that would spur economic growth.  

For this year’s work program, the ABAC will have initial areas of focus on (1) Economic Integration Working Group; (2) Sustainable Growth Working Group; (3) Digital and Innovation Working Group; (4) Finance Task Force; and (5) Inclusion Task Force.  

During the meeting, Secretary Pascual also commended the efforts of ABAC in shaping a strong, credible, and relevant World Trade Organization (WTO). Likewise, he recognized ABAC’s strong push for the eventual realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). 

“The Philippines views the FTAAP as a mechanism to boost economic recovery in the region, especially for MSMEs most affected by the pandemic. We thus support the immediate implementation of the FTAAP Agenda Work Plan which contributes to APEC’s sustainability and inclusion objectives,” he added. 

The ABAC Philippines likewise cited that they are currently focused on several initiatives such as promoting the availability and accessibility of climate risk scenario information and exploring the viability of nuclear energy as a zero-carbon energy source, and other use cases under the Sustainable Growth Working Group. Further, they are focusing on enhancing cross-border data flow in financial services.  

For the DTI, its main priorities include (1) APEC’s Support for the Safe Passage of Maritime Crew in the COVID-19 Era, (2) Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs (BAA), and (3) APEC Trade Repository. 

Aligned with this year’s ABAC meeting theme, the DTI aims to provide equal opportunities for all, promote regulations for environmental stewardship, and commit to fostering a digitally inclusive APEC community. 

The 3rd ABAC meeting was held at NUSTAR Convention Center in Cebu City. The DTI Chief also invited the ABAC members to explore Cebu’s treasures, which is known for its rich cultural heritage, historical tourist spots, and delectable cuisine. 

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