At least 2,000 delegates expected in Cebu for Apec meetings

AT LEAST 2,000 delegates from member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) will gather in Cebu on August 22 to September 6 for the 3rd Apec Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM-III) and Related Meetings, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose, in a press briefing in Malacañang, said the meeting in Cebu will be the last comprehensive senior officials’ meeting before the Apec Leaders’ Summit in November in Manila.

He noted that SOM-III will have an intensive 16-day meeting schedule, which includes meetings to finalize the Apec 2015 deliverables, as well as a host of workshops and public-private dialogues.

The SOM-III discussion also follows the template of the previous SOM meetings that centered on three core areas -- continuing the mandate of APEC 2014 to strengthen regional economic integration, connectivity and innovation; advancing the Apec 2015 priorities in pursuit of inclusive growth; and shaping a post-2015 vision for the Asia Pacific.

"In particular, SOM-III agenda follows from the outcomes of SOM-II last May in Boracay, where strengthening regional economic integration and fostering the participation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in global markets were at the top of the agenda," he said.

In the Cebu meeting, senior officials will discuss the implementation plan for the Boracay action agenda for globalizing MSMEs, which was successfully endorsed by Apec trade ministers during their meeting last May.

At the same time, the SOM-III discussions will continue to monitor the first-year implementation of the Apec connectivity blueprint for improved physical, institutional, and people-to-people connectivity, as well as the next steps for the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

Senior officials are also expected to finalize the Philippine-led Apec services cooperation framework proposal, Jose said, noting that it aims to develop a long-term strategy to increase the region’s competitiveness in services, trade, and investment.

Jose also pointed out that SOM-III places special emphasis on the Apec 2015 priorities of investing in human capital development and building sustainable and resilient communities, particularly with regards to good governance, enhanced economic opportunities for persons with disabilities, and health.

As part of this thrust, Cebu will also host the inaugural meeting of the Apec Group of Friends on Disability, aimed at promoting mainstream participation of persons with disabilities in the economy, as well as the 5th Apec High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy on August 30 and 31.

The event, to be chaired by Health Secretary Janette Garin and to be attended by Apec health ministers, will tackle preventive health measures against the spread of diseases and pandemics, and the promotion of healthy working environments, according to Jose.

"The high-level meeting directly contributes to the development of the healthy Asia Pacific 2020 roadmap to be endorsed to Apec leaders this November," he added.

Immediately after SOM-III, the Philippines will host the Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) on September 7 and 8, and the Finance Ministerial Meeting (FMM) on September 10 and 11.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and the Department of Finance will lead the SRMM and FMM, respectively.

Both ministerial-level meetings will also be held in Cebu.

The meeting venues for SOM-III and Related Meetings are Radisson Blu Cebu, Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, and Waterfront Hotel Cebu. (SDR/Sunnex)


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