BY JOANNE NAMNAMA G. PARROCHA
CLARK FREEPORT – The two-day Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the 21-member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) on Feb. 6-7 here laid down at least four priorities for building more inclusive economies across Asia-Pacific.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, chair of the SOM, said the priorities include advancing the regional economic integration agenda, fostering small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) participation in regional and global markets, investing in human capital development and building sustainable and resilient communities.
Del Rosario said the Philippines under President Aquino hopes to achieve an inclusive growth.
She noted, however, the absence of a disciplined educational system in achieving inclusive growth.
“Filipinos are talented in language but the Philippines must also be talented in rational sciences like Mathematics and Science to further develop our rational thinking,” she said.
She said the country benefitted from hosting the SOM based on commitments from the member-countries.
For instance, she said students and professionals across the Pacific region including the Philippines can avail of the scholarship initiative launched by APEC as led by John F. Jerry of the United States.
“This is to allow them to enjoy greater access to cross-border education, training and internships in the region,” she said.
She said one million students considered as “the future leaders of APEC” are targeted to roam around the region by the year 2020.
To help the country foster the SMEs, Del Rosario said member-economies namely Chinese Taipei and Korea will provide trainings and capacity programs for Filipino entrepreneurs.
Under building sustainable and resilient communities, Japan pledged to help the Philippines by offering our engineers trainings on building resilient infrastructure, as Japan is known for implementing strict building codes.
The APEC Senior Officials will meet for another round of talks in May at Boracay Island, Aklan.
The 21 member economies of APEC are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. (MCA/JNP/PIA-1 La Union)