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Business

Phl lauds ASEAN initiatives to accelerate virus response

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines lauded the completion of initiatives being pursued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in line with the region’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan.

In a statement Sunday, Trade assistant secretary Allan Gepty said the initiatives would help accelerate the region’s pandemic recovery efforts.

Gepty represented the Philippines in the third meeting of the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials for the 52nd  ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting held online from Aug.2 to 4.

The meeting marked the completion of initiatives being pursued in line with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) or the region’s exit strategy from the COVID-19 crisis.

Among the measures is the launch of the ASEAN Access, formerly known as ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Service Center and serves as a one-stop business information gateway for foreign-oriented MSMEs to expand their reach within and outside the region.

Also completed was the development of the roadmap and action plan on smart manufacturing.

During the meeting, the senior economic officials also welcomed the creation of an ACRF Support Unit this year to monitor, evaluate and coordinate efforts in implementing the remaining initiatives.

“We are confident that this momentum would also allow us to further our work, such as in finalizing the Guidelines on MSME Crisis and Disaster Resilience by end of the year,” Gepty said.

He also said the Philippines is backing the completion of the framework for a circular economy in ASEAN.

“We support the finalization of the Framework on Circular Economy as this will guide AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) work on sustainable development, support cross-pillar cooperation, and serve as a building block to ASEAN Post-2025 Work,” he said.

The framework on circular economy is targeted for adoption at the 20th AEC Council in October this year.

In the Philippines, Gepty said deliberations are ongoing in the House Committee on Economic Affairs for House Bill 7609, which seeks to institutionalize the promotion of a circular economy, as well as sustainable consumption initiatives in the country.

Also discussed during the senior economic officials meeting are the completion of Brunei Darussalam’s priority economic deliverables such as the ASEAN Investment Facilitation Framework, finalization of the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the inclusion of food and agricultural products such as rice in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the implementation of non-tariff measures on essential goods.

Signed by ASEAN economic ministers last year, the MOU on non-tariff measures on essential goods seeks to ensure smooth flow of goods considered essential in addressing the pandemic such as medicines, medical supplies and equipment.

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