24 April 2015

APEC News Releases

President Aquino welcomes Madrid Fusion Manila delegates
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed chefs and culinary experts participating in the Madrid Fusion Manila during a gala reception held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace on Thursday. One of the biggest culinary events in the world, Madrid Fusion makes its debut in the country as part of the “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” campaign, through the efforts of the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board.

“Food is one of the most accessible ways of exchanging cultures, which leads to greater understanding and cooperation between our peoples. It is for this reason that we thank Madrid Fusion for choosing to hold their first event in Southeast Asia here in the country,” the President told his guests.

“I am hopeful that, in the coming days, all of you can enjoy everything our country has to offer. In fact, I invite all of you to please stay a little longer after the conclusion of your work-related events. After all, 2015 is Visit the Philippines Year, and I am certain that the Secretary of Tourism himself—the Honorable Mon Jimenez—will gladly prepare an itinerary so that you can truly see why everything, including eating, is more fun in the Philippines,” he added.

Madrid Fusion Manila aims to showcase an encounter between Spanish and Filipino chefs to celebrate more than 300 years of shared history.

The three-day event, which runs from April 24 to April 26, features an international gastronomy congress and a trade exhibition at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Michelin-starred Spanish chefs and distinguished Asian and Filipino chefs will demonstrate modern techniques at the Gastronomy Congress, which is expected to be attended by 1,400 foreign and local chefs, culinary students, professionals and enthusiasts, as well as industry players.

Event organizers are eyeing more than 170 exhibitors from Spain and the Philippines to join the trade exhibition.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) signed an agreement with Arum Estrategias Internationalizacion, S.L. and Foro de Debate S.L., the legal owner of the Madrid Fusion trademark, on July 23 last year to jointly organize the first-ever Madrid Fusion in Asia.

During his trip to Spain in September last year, President Aquino witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. and Spain’s Minister of Economy and Competitiveness Jaime Garcia-Legaz on the holding of this event in Manila.

Also present at the gala reception was Madrid Fusion Manila Acting President Jose Carlos Capel. PND (jm)

President Aquino commends Philippine Economic Zone Authority for boosting investor confidence in the country
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday commended the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for boosting investor confidence in the country and thanked investors for betting on Filipinos.

In his speech during the 20th anniversary celebration and investors’ recognition night of PEZA, held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, President Aquino reported that as of December last year, the PEZA has approved a total investment of P2.86 trillion.

The President noted that of that amount, more than 45 percent, or about P1.3 trillion in investments, was recorded under his administration.

“Recent developments leave us optimistic that this trend will continue: after all, in 2014, the Philippines recorded an all-time high of $6.2 billion in net foreign direct investments, almost six times what we received in 2010,” he said.

“At the rate we are going, PEZA-recorded investments under this administration may soon exceed the value of the investments recorded under the previous three administrations.”

The Chief Executive also lauded PEZA Director-General Lilia de Lima for advocating a policy of “no red tape and no corruption, just non-stop service and red-carpet treatment” for all investors.

President Aquino further acknowledged the “invaluable contributions” of partners from the private sector from the country and abroad, which has led to the gainful employment of a total of 1,078,157 Filipinos since 1995.

“Back when you were scouting locations for your businesses, you came to the Philippines and saw our vast potential, manifested in the hardworking and talented Filipino people. You liked what you saw, you bet on our countrymen, and you are now reaping the fruits of that decision,” he said.

The President expressed optimism that the impressive records PEZA has made would continue.

“Given the radical change in attitude of our country, I believe that what has happened these past four years and nine months is but the start. So long as we keep this path, I can say, with full confidence: you ain’t seen nothing yet,” said President Aquino. PND (ag)

President Aquino, other Southeast Asian leaders to gather in Malaysia for the 26th ASEAN summit
(KUALA LUMPUR) President Benigno S. Aquino III and other leaders of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will gather here on Sunday (April 26) to discuss the association’s agenda and priorities for this year.

“This year is an exciting year for the peoples of ASEAN because this has been the year chosen for the launch of the ASEAN Community,” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said during a recent interview with Radio Television Malacañang here.

Ambassador Malaya said this year’s summit would also focus on ASEAN Post-2015 Vision, as well as on developing small and medium enterprises, promoting regional peace and security, and enhancing the association’s role as a global player.

He said the ASEAN economic integration’s goal is to create a single market and production base that would allow a freer movement of goods and services, as well as investments, capital and people.

The envoy said the establishment of the ASEAN Community would also create new opportunities for the peoples in the region, including the Philippines.

“At the end of the day, the ASEAN Community is about creating jobs and also fostering the habit of cooperation among governments, and also strengthening friendships,” Malaya said.

“In the ASEAN, we do not only strengthen the people-to-people engagement of two member countries like the Philippines and Malaysia, but between and among ten member states,” he added.

The ASEAN Community comprises three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

Malaya also said Malaysia had proposed that the ASEAN leaders adopt a declaration on a people-centered ASEAN, and a declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates.

The ASEAN Summit will be held in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi from April 26 to 28.

As this year’s chair, Malaysia has chosen the theme, “Our People, Our Community, Our Vision”.

President Aquino, who is set to arrive here Sunday, will join his fellow leaders at a gala dinner for heads of state/government attending the summit. On April 27, he will attend the 26th ASEAN Summit Plenary Session.

The President is also slated to meet with representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, ASEAN Youth and Civil Society Organizations.

President Aquino will join his counterparts in the 26th ASEAN Summit Retreat Session in Langkawi and attend the 11th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines — East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit on April 28.

Established in August 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (co)

President Aquino to visit Canada, United States next month
President Benigno S. Aquino III is scheduled to visit Canada and the United States next month, a Palace official announced on Friday.Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement that President Aquino has accepted the invitation of Canadian Governor David Johnston to undertake a state visit from May 7 to 9.

“President Aquino and his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are expected to witness the signing of bilateral agreements on labor cooperation, development assistance and infrastructure development, which will highlight the vibrancy of people-to-people relations,” she said.

President Aquino’s trip to Canada will be the first state visit of a Philippine president since former President Fidel Ramos’ visit in 1997.

Valte said the President is also expected to make a one-day working visit to the US to meet with potential investors and with the Filipino community in Chicago. PND (jm)

Local automotive industry to thrive despite challenges, industry player says
Despite gaps in the country’s automotive manufacturing industry, its future is bright and it can thrive in the long term because of several factors, an industry player has said.

During the 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue held in Makati City this week, Dennis Chan of the Famous Secret Precision Machining said these challenges include the availability of raw materials, accreditation of heat treatment facilities, metallurgist testing, and a small market size.

Concerns that also cropped up during the discussions were power shortage, port congestion, and infrastructure.

Despite these concerns however, the Philippine automotive manufacturing industry is poised to develop further, owing to continued government support, talented workers, new infrastructure, good governance, low land cost, and marginal labor cost, Chan said.

Ramon Vicente Kabigting, executive director of the Philippine Automotive Competitiveness Council, Inc., meanwhile told forum participants that the country’s automotive industry continuously generates employment from the auto parts manufacturing sector.

In 2010, SMEs in the sector generated 49,784 jobs, or 5 percent of the total manufacturing employment.

Of the total jobs created by SMEs, most of them came from ignition system manufacturing activities (25,605), and parts and accessories (19,835).

In the same year, value added was recorded at P36.2 million, or 3.5 percent of the total manufacturing value added.

In terms of gross addition to fixed assets, the auto parts industry recorded a total of P2.8 million, or 3.3 percent of P86.3 million worth of tangible fixed assets in manufacturing. The sector posted $3.6 million in exports in 2013, according to Kabigting.

The combined APEC economies’ gross domestic product (GDP) posted an annual compound rate of 2.7 percent until 2013, according to the Trade Department. The region’s combined GDP was valued at $31.5 trillion in 2013.

An increase in GDP brings an increase in disposable incomes of consumers and the increasing regional income has made positive spillover effects to the automotive sector.

The increase in demand for automobiles has been fueling the dynamism in the automotive manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region. PND (as)

APEC automotive stakeholders attend workshop on U.S. auto standards, technical regulations
Government representatives and automotive industry stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region attended a workshop on U.S. automotive standards and technical regulations, held this week in Makati City on the sidelines of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Automotive Dialogue.

The workshop advocated the importance of the adoption of auto industry standards to ensure safety and acceptable environmental outcomes.

Among those who made presentations during the workshop were representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC).

The AAPC represents the common public policy interests of its member companies –FCA US, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Company.

The 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue carried the theme, “Integrating SMEs into the Automotive Global Value Chains”.

The dialogue aims to encourage APEC member economies to move toward more integrated regional and global approaches to automotive policies.

More than 140 participants from APEC member economies – among them Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S. — attended the event. PND (as)

APEC member economies encouraged to back Philippine-Malaysian project on automotive Global Value Chain
Organizers of the 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue will continue to push for the implementation of the Global Value Chain SME for the Automotive Sector (GSAS) project proposed by the Philippines and Malaysia.

The GSAS project aims to facilitate the integration of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) into global value chains (GVCs) in the automotive industry and build their capacity for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Small and medium businesses account for 97 percent of total APEC firms.

The GSAS project also seeks to illustrate GVCs mapping in the Asia-Pacific region, promotes best practices in GVC integration, and identify non-tariff barriers to trade and investment. It will help SMEs develop practical solutions to address economic barriers.

The project is under South Korea’s umbrella project of capacity building for SMEs’ integration into global value chains in major industries, proposed during the 2014 meeting of the Committee on Trade and Industry (CTI).

South Korea focuses on facilitating SME integration into GVCs in major industries and building their capacity for sustainable and inclusive growth.

To achieve these objectives, the project will undertake a sector level analysis of GVCs in key industries in the region, which include information technology, electronics, and textiles.

Proponents of the GSAS project are expected to develop a progress report on planned actions, focusing on how to help SMEs promote their integration into GVCs from the trade and investment perspective, organize an SME automotive GVC dialogue and workshop, and obtain support and funding for the supporting projects.

The 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue had the theme, “Integrating SMEs into the Automotive Global Value Chains.”

The dialogue aims to encourage APEC member economies to move toward more integrated regional and global approaches to automotive policies. PND (as)

Trade official reports successful APEC Automotive Dialogue
The chair of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Automotive Dialogue reported a successful conclusion of the discussion on Friday, saying stakeholders in the bloc’s automotive industry have agreed on several initiatives for the benefit of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).In a press briefing after two-and-a-half days of discussions, Director Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa of the Department of Trade and Industry, said that the discussions revealed that automotive suppliers have successfully penetrated the export market through innovation and modern technology, but several challenges remain.

She noted that SMEs are also increasingly becoming aware of the need to find their roles in the global value chains (GVCs) to survive intense competition.

The discussion also confirmed the remaining constraints to SME global integration that must be addressed through cooperation among governments, suppliers, and vehicle manufacturers, Halili-Dichosa said.

At the same time, she reported the approval of the SME survey projects to be led by Malaysia, which aims to gather information and identify the challenges faced by APEC SMEs. The initiative will be presented during the next automotive dialogue this September.

“The result of this survey shall become the basis for the work plan that will be presented in the next APEC Leaders’ Meeting,” she said.

During the discussions, Halili-Dichosa said, the Philippines also proposed the development of a compendium of automotive industry information in APEC economies that would empower APEC SMEs to penetrate the automotive GVCs, through the use of updated trends and knowledge on the automotive market in the Asia-Pacific region.

The proposal will be built on the compilation done by the United States on APEC-wide taxation regimes.

The APEC Automotive Dialogue is also gearing up for the development of the electric vehicle (EV) roadmap, to be led by the U.S.

Dialogue members have already agreed on the elements of the roadmap, and inputs from APEC economies are expected by May 20.

Halili-Dichosa said the initial draft of the electric vehicle roadmap will be presented during the next meeting of the Automotive Dialogue.

In the next four months, she said, the dialogue will be busy working on these major initiatives.

“We expect the strong commitment of APEC member economies in pushing these initiatives forward,” she added.

“We definitely look forward to the significant developments to be presented during the next Automotive Dialogue meeting in September 2015.”

The 22nd APEC Automotive Dialogue had for its theme, “Integrating SMEs into the Automotive Global Value Chains”. PND (as)

Order of Sikatuna conferred on International Maritime Organization Secretary General
The Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu Katangiang Ginto (Grand Cross, Gold Distinction) has been conferred on International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Roji Sekimizu in recognition of his “significant contribution to strengthening and deepening the strong relationship” between the Philippines and the organization.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, representing President Benigno S. Aquino III, presented the award to Sekimizu at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Friday.

Sekimizu was honored “for his excellent and dedicated service in maritime affairs, particularly in promoting the safety and security of shipping and seafarers, and the prevention of maritime pollution; and for his steadfast efforts to encourage support in the IMO for various Philippine initiatives aimed at enhancing safety and security of seafarers and ships and of safety of navigation”.

The Japanese was also acknowledged for his role in adopting the first major revisions since 1995 to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers 1978, including improved measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency and strengthen the evaluation process, updated standards in relation to medical fitness standards for seafarers, new requirements for marine environment awareness training, and new requirements for security training, as well as provisions to ensure that seafarers are properly trained if their ship comes under attack by pirates.

Sekimizu was likewise recognized “for his demonstrated commitment to ensuring the provision of relevant expert capacity building enchancements to ensure the safety of ships providing domestic passenger ferry service in the Philippines”.

Also present during the awarding ceremony were Atty. Josephine Marie Uranza, regional coordinator of IMO Regional Presence for Technical Cooperation in East Asia; Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya; Dr. Maximo Mejia Jr., administrator of Maritime Industry Authority; and Rear Admiral Cecil Chen of the Philippine Coast Guard.

The Order of Sikatuna was established in 1953 and is conferred by the President to give recognition to individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Philippines; and to diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines. PND (jm)

Government taking proactive approach to poaching in West Philippine Sea
The government is taking a proactive approach to poaching in the West Philippine Sea, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez said Friday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Perez said the government is coordinating with Vietnam and Indonesia regarding foreign fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters.

“We have coordination with our friends from Vietnam. Mayroon po tayong hotline ngayon. We are about to develop a hotline with Indonesia. Mayroon pong mas malinaw na koordinasyon ang bawat bansa,” he said.
He said the government is also deploying more enforcers and vessels to guard against foreign poachers and is allocating more funds to support these operations.

“Never in the history of this country has there been efforts similar to these,” Perez added.

It was reported last month that more than 300 boats carrying foreign poachers, among them Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian fishermen, could be seen every day in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea but could not be arrested by government forces due to lack of equipment.

The BFAR, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, is responsible for the development, improvement, management and conservation of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources. PND (ag)