APEC: More focus needed to promote economic growth
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - September 8, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The 2nd Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting concluded yesterday with a statement detailing actions to promote economic growth through structural reform that is consistent with the APEC 2015 theme.

This year’s APEC theme was “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”.

The statement endorses a work program that embodies the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform 2016-2020, which strives to stimulate balanced and sustainable growth and reduced inequality.

The ministers and high level officials of APEC economies agreed to advance APEC’s economic reform agenda, discuss how to overcome the middle-income trap, and consider the continuation of the structural reform work program until 2020.

Arsenio M. Balisacan, SRMM chairperson and director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority, read their joint statement noting that uncertainty continues to cloud the global economic scene.

Although there are signs of recovery, he said, the residual effects of the global financial crisis are still evident in many economies, even as new forms of trade and investment protectionism are on the rise.

“For this reason, we agreed in our meeting that we need a much stronger focus on promoting economic growth through structural reform. To advance our work in the next five years until 2020, we agreed to endorse a work program described under the five themes, and embodied in the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR). This work program strives to stimulate balanced and sustainable growth and reduce inequality,” said Balisacan in a joint press conference yesterday.

On the issue of Structural Reform and Inclusive Growth, they agreed that structural reform, if implemented correctly, can provide for enhanced inclusion of underrepresented groups, firms, and regions until now by providing more opportunities to participate in and benefit from a growing economy.

He said they are instructing the Economic Committee to develop a policy framework on how structural reform, including those initiated by other APEC committees and working groups, can contribute to inclusive growth.

On the issue on Structural Reform and Innovation, the APEC Economic Policy Report or AEPR on Structural Reform and Innovation will be completed, and they recommend its adoption at the APEC Ministers’ Meeting in November 2015.

“The impact of the AEPR’s work on structural reform and innovation will be considered for policies that are needed to address the middle income trap, and slowing growth potential in other economies,” he said.

On the issue of Structural Reform and Services, Balisacan said that this will be one of the priorities for APEC and they have instructed the Economic Committee to raise the importance of services in the Renewed Action Agenda on Structural Reform or RAASR.

The AEPR for 2016, he said will also focus on structural reform and services as the Economic Committee will support the initiative to develop an APEC Services Cooperation Framework (ASCF).

As for the Tools on Structural Reforms, Balisacan said that they agreed that APEC should further advance its work on Good Regulatory Practices or GRP, and model legal instruments through, among others, the application of these instruments to improve competition outcomes within APEC economies.

He said that they encourage efforts to promote international regulatory cooperation, the international legal instruments to strengthen the legal infrastructure of APEC economies, and for APEC member-economies to undertake a self-assessment of barriers to competition, including a review of current competition laws and policies, among others. —/FPL (FREEMAN)

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