By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The APEC Business Advisory Council Philippines (ABAC PH) has thrown its support to ASEAN peers – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in promoting Islamic infrastructure investment.
In a statement, ABAC PH chair Tomas Alcantara said that infrastructure is one of the Duterte administration’s four-point agenda that ABAC PH has thrown its strong support. At the recent APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, President Rodrigo Duterte has called for inclusive globalization.
The Duterte administration has launched its Build, Build, Build, a massive infrastructure program with more than 70 flagship projects for implementation and investment requirement of P8.3 trillion.
It is continuing its ongoing work with counterparts such as Malaysia to explore other financing mechanisms to support the government’s infrastructure drive.
In addition, ABAC PH is also looking forward to collaborating with APEC bodies to tap the catastrophe bonds, which is critical for a disaster-prone economy like the Philippines.
The APEC Working Group on Regional Disaster Risk Financing Solutions for APEC Economies is co-chaired by Japan and The Philippines, with World Bank acting as lead technical facilitator.
Aside from infrastructure, the three other agenda include growing globally competitive micro small and medium enterprises; championing the service sector; and harnessing digital innovation as the key to the future economy.
“Now more than ever, world economies are being challenged to bring in the benefits of free and open trade, especially to the developing economies and for people at the margins. The global trading system can definitely do more – but we need to work on strategic areas with our economic partners, such as those from APEC, to unleash growth at home and the rest of the region,” according to Alcantara.
To grow globally competitive MSMEs, ABAC PH will work more closely with DTI to help provide an effective enabling ecosystem for micro, small, and medium enterprises. These include enhancing availability and accessibility of finance, boosting their capacity for scale, and strengthening linkages with domestic and international value chains.
Services sector has been the major driver of productivity and economic growth in the Philippines and in the region. ABAC PH will continue to engage the government to facilitate trade in services – by implementing structural reforms, and enhancing physical, institutional and people connectivity. The council is also studying key subsectors that have great potential for bringing in more investments and creating more jobs.
ABAC PH also emphasized the central role of education and training in developing a future-ready workforce. The council emphasized that the Philippines must build on its large and young population as they are critical to the digital economy.