APEC Group on Services Convenor

“Charting a New Course on Services: A Call to Action in APEC”
7 September 2015
Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines


Colleagues, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

First of all, on behalf of APEC, I would like to thank all of you for participating in this event.

Let us also recognize the efforts of the APEC Business Advisory Council, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, and the APEC 2015 SOM Chair’s Office, and the support of the International Trade Center and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia.

I am sure you will agree with me that the sessions have been very successful in surfacing issues and in highlighting the important areas where there is scope for further support for the development and growth of the services sector. In this regard, I would like to express my appreciation to the speakers, panelists, and moderators who provided useful insights and kept the panel sessions interesting.

We began this conference with an overview of the services sector, focusing on its contributions to the growth of APEC economies. This was followed by extensive discussions concerning our pursuit of a more competitive services sector, the opportunities for growth, the challenges from the slowdown of global trade, but also the significant scope for continuous and expanding trade in services.

I will not attempt to summarize the discussions that just transpired this morning lest that take away from the richness of the insights you heard. Besides that would violate the basic rule that closing remarks should not be longer than the opening remarks.

Let me just say that the final session, which stressed cooperation and coalition-building, captures the essence of one of our main objectives for this conference, which is to forge a stronger collaboration between and among APEC economies and the private sector.

The issues and concerns raised here this morning will serve as valuable inputs as we proceed with the structural reform talks this afternoon. As you know, one of the theme papers to be discussed later highlights the services sector. I believe that the focus now being given to the sector augurs well for reforms within APEC economies, particularly on the improvement of regulations concerning trade in services. Since APEC’s work in services is cross-cutting in nature, a number of APEC working groups and sub-committees have been actively working, and will continue to work on the different areas concerning services. Likewise, the APEC Services Cooperation Framework, which we expect will be adopted by our Leaders in November, is aimed towards making all of APEC’s work on services more focused and coherent. We hope that the private sector will continue to support our initiatives in this area.

The increased level of engagement between APEC and the private sector during this year’s meetings has set a higher bar for multistakeholder partnership and participation. We hope that this will be the new normal as we face an increasingly challenging yet potentially rewarding environment for the services sector. Once again, congratulations for a successful and productive conference.

Thank you and Mabuhay!