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Opinion

What APEC means to the Philippines and to Cebu

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It just happened that this writer was in Cebu last two days all the while when the third Seniors Officers' Meeting was held in the Waterfront Hotel, Radisson Blu, Marriot, Shangrila Mactan and in Marco Polo Plaza where I was staying. I also happened to be acquainted with many of the Philippine Department of Foreign of Affairs officials and personnel who are facilitating and coordinating the meetings. They are my friends since my nine years as diplomat in Kuala Lumpur, Taichung, and Taipei, Taiwan and Kuwait. And so, I took the opportunities to have coffee with some of the delegates and gathered more information. I met Australians, Russians, Chinese, Mexicans, Peruvians, and Vietnamese.

The Philippines is a founding member of APEC or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation whose main objective is to establish a FTAAP or the Free Trade Agreement for Asia and Pacific. APEC includes the twelve original members which founded it in 1989, upon the call of then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. The founding member-nations include, aside from the Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the USA. Nine more were admitted later, including Chile, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. To be politically correct, we have to call them ''economies'' rather than nations or countries because Taiwan is not recognized by China. Hong Kong is not an independent state.

The following have been invited as observers and may soon be admitted as members: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Macau, Mongolia, Laos, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Columbia, Panama, and Ecuador. The current 21 economies have a combined population of 2.7 billion, based on a 2013 survey, which constitutes 40% of the total world's population. Based on 2010 figures, the total trade receipts of the 21 APEC economies amount to a whopping 16.8 trillion US dollars, which was 45% of the world's total. The Philippines total trade with other APEC economies amounted to 96.104 billion US dollars or 80% of our country's total annual trade. Thus, APEC is more important to us than even ASEAN.

The meeting in Cebu, which was the third, after that in Clark last January, and in Boracay last May, has brought no less than 3,000 official delegates, not to count the many underlings and staff, wives, husbands, lovers, and both. That was a great business opportunity for our hotels which charged at more than eighteen thousand a night for a deluxe room as average. Transport services, entertainment, restaurants, and bars also made a killing. This is not to mention the underground economy represented by entertainers who do not issue receipts for their services, from massage and other jobs.

If not for the horrendous traffic and the inclement weather, it would have been perfect.

Come last week of November later this year, the APEC LEADERS' MEETING, called the ANNUAL APEC SUMMIT will be held in Manila. It was held in Beijing last year 2014, in Bali, Indonesia in 2013, in Vladivostok, Russia in 2012, in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2011 and in Yokohama, Japan in 2010. It will be held in Lima, Peru in 2016 and in Da Nang, Vietnam in 2017. The leaders shall continue to talk about ways and mechanisms to achieve inclusive growth that shall make the world a better place for people to live peacefully and with a higher quality of life. This is a very big challenge to our leaders and people on how to maximize benefits out of this very powerful alliance of nations.

[email protected]

 

 

APEC

ASIA AND PACIFIC

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER BOB HAWKE

CEBU

COSTA RICA

DA NANG

FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

HONG KONG

KUALA LUMPUR

MARCO POLO PLAZA

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