DDG Emmanuel F. Esguerra
APEC Group on Services Convenor and
Vice Senior Official of the PH Delegation to the 1st SOM

1 February 2015, 9:00 AM
Clark, Pampanga, Philippines

Colleagues in APEC, special guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. On behalf of the GOS, welcome to the joint meeting of the EC, GOS and the PECC.

Having three groups assembled here today rouses optimism about the future of Services in our work in APEC. This is not only an affirmation of our recognition of the cross-cutting nature of services in the global and regional economy, but more importantly, an indication of the direction of our future work in the pursuit of inclusive development.

I don’t have slides to show you. Let me confine my remarks to just a few general points.

The cross-cutting nature of services and requirements of the newly endorsed blueprints requires consideration and action by the whole of APEC acting in concert.

For example, while the benefits of liberalized markets are acknowledged, effective regulatory frameworks and administrative capacities are necessary to address market failures and social objectives. Important interactions between service activities, delivery modes, and between goods and services need also to be considered.

For SMEs to be able to participate in GVCs [Global Value Chains], investment in building firms’ productive capacities and work force skills is also critical in order to maximize value-added and realize a bigger share of it.

In this regard, I am pleased to share with you that the GOS meeting yesterday was very fruitful. New developments in ongoing projects were reported, useful information from relevant studies were shared, and proposed initiatives were supported. Needless to say, I believe that the GOS brings to the table today a valuable set of information on developments and best practices in specific services sectors.

We would also like to point out that while current trade policies among APEC member economies vary, we all know that the achievement of our REI [Regional Economic Integration] agenda depends on the success of structural reform, as much as structural reform in our individual economies depends on the achievement of our REI goals. As such, there is nothing more strategic in approaching structural reform than through regulatory reforms. By doing this, we target areas in our economies where the potential gains from structural reforms are the greatest.

For example, the PSU [Policy Support Unit] reported yesterday that more open services trade policies are positively correlated to manufacturing competitiveness. Impediments to the movement of people, foreign ownership and other market entry conditions contribute to lower manufacturing exports, which in turn discourages investments and weakens trade. As such, there is a need to involve different government agencies and study the linkages among different policies. By doing these, we set the groundwork for regulatory reform and open opportunities for our people.

In addition, there is need for greater willingness to increase governments’ capacities to adjust so that people’s access to better opportunities in an integrated regional economy may be facilitated. This adjustment includes an openness to changing perspectives and having a deeper collaboration and coordination in policymaking across governments and government agencies.

The APEC is a useful venue for increasing such capacity.