APEC Finance Ministers are convened here through Friday to assess the economic and financial outlook and launch the Cebu Action Plan—a package of new joint initiatives to be taken forward by APEC members to combat inequality and ensure next generation growth within the region’s transitioning economies through greater integration and connectivity. Philippine Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima is chairing the proceedings.
“The only real growth is inclusive growth,” explained President Aquino, pointing to the Philippines’ 6.2 per cent GDP rise over the last four years, a forty year high, but also the need among Asia-Pacific economies to build prosperity that is widely felt by people and businesses. “Regardless of the seeming magnitude of the challenge, progress can be achieved sooner rather than later—especially if we work with solidarity, coherence and integrity.”
“My optimism is shaped by my experience of how a group with a unified sense of purpose can accelerate our shared journey towards prosperity,” President Aquino continued. “My positivity is reinforced by the Cebu Action Plan,” which, he noted, APEC Finance Ministers are now working towards and “ticks all the right boxes.”
GDP among the 21 APEC member economies increased 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2.2 per cent for world GDP, according to the APEC Policy Support Unit. It comes against the backdrop of new market challenges that include a continued slowdown in trade growth that has been an engine of Asia-Pacific economies over the last quarter century and exposed the need to take more aggressive steps to enable new and under-tapped sources of growth.
President Aquino said that the Cebu Action Plan is focused on improving financial integration among APEC members to spur cross-border investment, strengthening transparency to enhance market efficiency, and lifting micro, small and medium enterprises and productivity needed to drive job creation, wages and social mobility within and across APEC economies. Developing and financing infrastructure to ensure a foundation for continued growth is a further point of emphasis.
“The Cebu Action Plan will also help equip us to respond to some of the gravest threats to our economies in the form of natural disasters, particularly those caused by the new normal of climate change,” President Aquino added.
APEC economies experience more than 70 per cent of the world's natural disasters and suffered USD68 billion annually in related costs from 2003 to 2013—the year the Philippines and neighboring areas were struck by Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is known in the archipelago. It occurred just three weeks after Cebu and nearby Bohol were hit by a major earthquake.
“Two months from now, I will be welcoming the Leaders of APEC to discuss clearer pathways for us to build more inclusive economies, towards building a better world,” President Aquino concluded. “The success of that meeting, however, is rooted in gatherings such as this, where the more technical aspects are forged into policies that public servants can carry out for the benefit of our countrymen.”
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