During the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Manila, President Barack Obama and other world leaders have convened to discuss initiatives in line with APEC’s theme this year, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.”
During the forum chaired by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, they came up with several “concrete actions” that would help support inclusive economic growth with several priorities in mind.
This year’s broad priorities include the enhancement of the regional economic integration agenda, the fostering of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in both regional global markets, further investment in human capital development as well as the building of sustainable and resilient communities.
To enhance regional economic integration, the APEC leaders and ministers have agreed to launch work that will explore possible ways in which APEC economies will be able to reduce barriers to digital trade. Moreover, there is a plan to help SMEs gain access to the digital economy better through the Digital Economy Action Plan. In addition, the APEC leaders and ministers have agreed to examine alternatives to localization requirement with the United States leading the efforts to address negative effects brought about by forced localization requirements on both trade and investment.
Meanwhile, the APEC leaders and ministers have agreed to help in women empowerment by including the Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC (WE-APEC) initiative’s. At the same time, there is a commitment to increase women’s participation across all modes of the transportation workforce while making transportation safer and more accessible to women through the implementation of the Women in Transportation Framework. In addition, the recent APEC forum welcomed the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit, which addresses health-related issues that would keep women from participating in the workforce. Economies, private sector partners and advocates are being called on to develop actions that would implement recommended policies and practices from the said toolkit. Aside from this, the APEC leaders and ministers discussed and addressed a number of critical issues regarding health systems, tariffs, advertising standards and environmental conservation.
Collectively, the APEC economies account for as much as 40 percent of the world’s population, controlling 58 percent of the world GDP and participating in 44 percent of world trade. Last year, the United States goods and services trade with APEC economies last year amounted to more than $3 trillion, with the five largest export markets for the U.S. being Canada ($313.5 billion), Mexico ($240.2 billion), China ($124.7 billion), Japan ($68 billion), and Korea ($46.1 billion).