Apec hosting a chance to showcase PH’s brightest spots, say business leaders
The Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit is an opportunity to show the rest of the world what the country has got and where it wants to excel on, business leaders said on Monday.
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Doris Magsaysay Ho, chairperson of the Apec business advisory council, said it is a “very opportune time” to host the summit especially now that the country enjoys a positive image in the economic world as rising star in Southeast Asia.
“It’s a very opportune time for us to be hosting so we feel it’s important to highlight what are the best parts of the Philippines,” Ho said during the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia forum in Makati City.
“We focus on what will be our contribution to the whole Apec system—what is our contribution to the Apec system as a whole and what do we want to leave behind to be able to face the opportunities that free trade brings,” she added.
Ho said Apec integration efforts will only make sense if the Philippines will be able to identify a specific good or service that it wants to strengthen and share to the world.
“Apec and all of these integration efforts are all about opening markets to us, so it will actually become meaningful if only we have something clear in our minds that what we want to sell whether goods or services,” Ho said.
“How we position ourselves in this global market becomes extremely important, and this hosting gives us the opportunity for us to sit back and think what it is that we wanna go and excel in this world,” she added.
Guillermo Luz, also a member of the Apec business advisory council and private sector co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, highlighted the potential of the country’s service sector.
“The Philippines is in prime position to meet that new global worker challenge. We have people; we have a young population. If we invest in health and education, if we position ourselves properly in the services field, that is the roadmap,” Luz said.
“We can do something. We don’t want to make the Apec exercise a free-wheeling discussion of things. We need to extract lessons from this and use it in the Philippines to make a better country,” he added.
Asked about Apec’s nonbinding nature, meaning commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said what makes the 21-member economy stable through the years is dialogue and openness.
“We live in a world that’s very interconnected. If everything becomes binding, you won’t have any agreement… We want an open system of trade. We want a free flow of goods, skills services in a way that is conducive to a global trading system,” said the chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation.
“To me, that’s the benefit of Apec; if there’s a mechanism for dialogue, anticipation for sharing, that actually lifts everyone. It’s a unique opportunity for countries to say, here’s an opportunity so I’m going to grab what I can learn and participate and subject myself to new standards that are being set,” Zobel de Ayala added.
Heads of states of top economies will arrive in the country next week for the Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila.
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