The Philippines will host the 2015 APEC Summit and showcase both the public and private sector’s long-term commitment to its theme of inclusive growth
Next year, the Philippines will host one of the world’s most important gathering of key decision makers from across the globe: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 summit. Focusing on inclusive growth, APEC 2015 will be the first such gathering held in the Philippines in nearly two decades, bringing together the leaders of the world’s most dynamic economies, which together account for 40% of the world’s population, 44% of global trade, and 53% of the world’s real GDP.
“Our major vote of confidence is being selected to host APEC 2015, where 21 countries will come together to participate in 18 different meetings,” says Ambassador Marciano A. Paynor Jr., Director General of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Council. “It used to be only trade and foreign affairs. Now we have finance, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and higher education, among others. Many of the things being discussed are economic, related to stimulus, and this is an indication that the Philippines and the member economies are working together again. Hosting APEC is a huge honor; it shows that there is confidence in the Philippines at this time. And there should be, with 17 infrastructure projects set for the next two years, the economy and growth will be stronger than ever in the Philippines.”
Because of these unique factors, the Philippines has a special role to play in promoting APEC’s goals of increasing trade and investment, as well as facilitating business and economic and technical cooperation.
“APEC’s intention has been to create free trade among members,” says Guillermo “Bill” Luz, Private Sector Co-Chairman at the Philippines National Competitiveness Council. “We want to gain from that, so we will place it high on APEC’s agenda.”
Focusing on its role in the regional and the global economy, the Philippines has worked to spread prosperity among its citizens by engaging with its partners worldwide. “By 2016, we want to be able to move the country into the top third in global rankings for competitiveness,” Mr. Luz adds. “We used to be in the bottom third, and are now in the middle. I want to see the country in the top 20% of the world. That is just a ranking. The tangible benefit is as you become more competitive, you can attract investment and create jobs. The visible outcome is that poverty drops. It is currently about 26%, and we want it to drop below 15%.”
Deepening the Philippines’ unique competitive advantages for more inclusive growth will require close cooperation with the private sector. “The private sector is involved through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC),” Mr. Paynor adds. “In ABAC, the leaders are invited to many of the meetings that are conducted by government. Their ideas are taken into account and we have asked for their help and support in the organizing council.” The ABAC includes executives representing some of the Philippines’ leading private businesses. Chief executives from Ayala Corp., Magsaysay Group of Companies, and Jollibee Corp. all have seats on the council.
Despite the complexity of the task, leaders involved in organizing APEC 2015 say that they have not lost sight of its most important goal: to foster inclusive growth, thereby reducing poverty and spreading opportunity and prosperity to all corners of society. “We plan to create high quality jobs by revitalizing the manufacturing sector, expanding tourism into new areas, linking small agriculture producers with the value chain, and creating a sound environment for massive investment in infrastructure and logistics,” says Arsenio M. Balisacan, Economic Planning Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“My idea of inclusive growth is that if I grow, others must grow with me,” adds Mr. Paynor. “If I grow to the detriment of others, that is exclusive growth. I think that this idea can be translated into business. More and more, people are realizing that there is a different way of doing business. We are able to do business our way, as hospitable Asians. When we grow, we have to be able to bring Cambodia, Laos, etc. We will not forget them. Now is the time for inclusive growth, which must be the prevailing factor in the decisions we have to make.”