Wednesday, June 24, 2009

R.P. pitches aid, stimulus issues for APEC meet

MEMBER-countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) will meet for the second round of discussions on what more they should do to mitigate the ill effects of the global recession, and the Philippines has raised the burning issues of more relevant official development assistance (ODA) and a more efficient release of stimulus funds from international donors.

Philippine head negotiator for Apec Edsel Custodio said the discussions and exchange of information on fiscal, monetary and social resilience measures will be held during the Apec senior officials meeting (SOM) mid-July this year in Singapore. The first round was held at the Apec SOM retreat in March.

“Senior ministers [of Apec] recognized the need to facilitate trade financing, as well as financing to support other activities. The SOM chairman noted the SOM retreat had seen strong and broad consensus on the need for speedy replenishment of the Asian Development Bank’s funds,” stated an Apec report.

The report added the SOM chairman “has noted Japan’s proposal to expand its initiative of an Asia Pacific Trade Insurance Network to facilitate cooperation among export credit agencies to include all Apec economies.”

Custodio, also Foreign Affairs undersecretary for international economic relations, said the global economic crisis is not so much about Filipino migrant workers losing jobs abroad, but the need to salvage the dying local industries in the Philippines and other developing Apec members.

The worst impact of the global financial crisis, he said, are on the local industries like the export sector; thus the need to focus on financing small and medium enterprises that in the case of the Philippines comprise more than 90 per cent of its industries.

He said the crisis is also driving many rich economies to source talents and skills abroad because they could no longer live up to the high salary expectations of their own workers. “The economic crisis is actually an opportunity for us because we can supply the human resource needs of the rich countries.”

Custodio said since there are not many Apec programs for SMEs—very much needed by developing countries—the Philippines will greatly push for the support of microfinance programs within Apec.

Apec is composed of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong-China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese-Taipei, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

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