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

31 January 2015, 9:00 AM
Clark, Pampanga, Philippines

Colleagues in APEC, special guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to the first GOS meeting for 2015, welcome to Clark, Pampanga, and welcome to the Philippines.

We would also like to welcome Undersecretary Andy Cui, the vice SOM Chair, who will brief us on the APEC 2015 priorities in a little while.

Let us also welcome Ms. Catalina Barberi Torres from the Directorate of Foreign Investment and Services of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, who will make a presentation on services this afternoon.

Our sincere appreciation also goes to the APEC Secretariat and the representatives of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and the Policy Support Unit (PSU), for attending the meeting, and providing inputs to GOS from time to time.

As we begin today’s meeting, allow me to note the successful culmination of the 54th GOS meeting last year in Beijing, chaired by Ms. Sondang Anggraini. As we may all know, while other GOS projects are still underway, a number of them have already been implemented in 2014. These developments, when taken together, constitute a significant step toward the achievement of the Bogor goals. This also shows us that the GOS in 2014 delivered on its task of contributing to the advancement of regional economic integration.

Today, we are here to build on what has been started – to enhance what the GOS has achieved thus far, and efficiently pursue the unfinished.

In this regard, the CTI Chair will share with us this morning the Committee’s work program for 2015 and will discuss our areas of collaboration with them. For one, the GOS has to submit two plans of action at the AMM this year. First is for the facilitation and liberalization of environmental services and the other for manufacturing related services in supply and value chains.

Aside from this, the GOS is also continuing its work on increasing the transparency of services trade-related regulations, facilitating services, trade, and investments, and fostering the development of open services markets, among others. These suggest another busy year for the group.

The challenge is that this is all but a one-day meeting. So as we go through our agenda, let us be guided by the APEC 2015 priorities. Let us keep in mind the people of the Asia-Pacific region who deserve better opportunities and a better quality of life.

It is fair to say that Services is the largest economic sector and is a major employer in most APEC economies, including the Philippines. In a manner of speaking, the stakes are high. Along this line, we will be pleased to hear updates or reports from various economies on their ongoing initiatives, as well as proposals to support the achievement of the APEC 2015 priorities.

As in many huge undertakings, and as has been quoted by other leaders, allow me to share with you this old African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

Our collective goal to have a free and open trade and investment environment in the Asia-Pacific region is a Herculean task, especially for services which is continuously evolving. Thus, given its cross-cutting nature, the GOS has collaborated with the Economic Committee and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council for a Seminar on the Role of Regulatory Reform/Good Practices in Promoting Services Growth to be held on 1 February 2015 at the margin of SOM 1, to which you are all invited. I hope you will find time to participate in this seminar.

To address impediments to and facilitate services trade growth, a Public-Private Sector Dialogue on Services focusing on the IT-BPM, creative industries and R&D services will also be held on 2 February 2015. Organized by the APEC Senior Officials in collaboration with the APEC Business Advisory Council, and PECC, this activity once more underscores efforts to work together with our counterparts in the private sector in order to achieve our collective goal. PPDs on other service industries are also being planned during SOM2 and SOM3, and we just as well look forward to participating in these dialogues and interacting with our private sector partners and our colleagues in other APEC committees and working groups.

Finally, given the way that services-related initiatives have expanded within APEC’s various committees and working groups over the years, what we would like to see during our hosting year is at least the beginning of efforts to pull these seemingly disparate initiatives together under a coherent framework that guides the work of all APEC committees and working groups.

This is the essence of the APEC – for us to go far by working together. It is, however, even much better if we can work together faster so that the benefits of our collective action can be felt sooner rather than later by more people.

With this, I wish us all a fruitful discussion ahead, and you, our guests, a lovely and not-too-stressful stay in Clark.

Thank you and Mabuhay!