MACTAN, Cebu – Finance Ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have one fervent wish for the Cebu Action Plan (CAP): that it may end up like the Bogor Goals of 1994.
“It is our hope,” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, “that the Cebu Action Plan is going to be referred to again and again in a similar way to how the trade ministers continually refer to the Bogor Goals of 1994 in order to gauge progress in their discussions.”
Adopted by APEC leaders during a meeting in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, Bogor Goals aim for free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. APEC members agreed to pursue this goal by further reducing barriers to trade and investment and by promoting the free flow of goods, services and capital. These targets are an ambitious manifestation of APEC’s common belief that free and open trade and investment are essential to realize the growth potential of the region and enhance economic and social outcomes for all APEC economies.
The Cebu Action Plan, on the other hand, was launched last Friday here with the goal of building an APEC community that is more financially integrated, transparent, resilient, and connected. It seeks to promote policies, rules and practices across APEC economies to support strong, sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth throughout the region
The Roadmap consists of four pillars: Promoting Financial Integration; Advancing Fiscal Reforms and Transparency; Enhancing Financial Resiliency; and Accelerating Infrastructure Development and Financing.
“This is a result of intensive involvement of every stakeholder from member economies to the international financial institutions and private sector leaders we engaged from Clark to Cebu,” said Secretary Purisima in a joint press conference.
He said APEC Finance Ministers offered flexibility in the framework to make sure it can accommodate changes, additions and give enough room for adjustment to the next hosts of the APEC Summit. Peru will be hosting in 2016 followed by Viet Nam in 2017.
According to Purisima, the idea is to make the Cebu Action Plan “a living document that allows it to grow as the members see fit.”
“That is the key to making sure this framework will see its vision of free trade and free flow of investments in the region, good governance and sound fiscal position, deeper financial markets that allow for financial inclusion and resilience to global market volatility and natural disasters, as well as more financing for infrastructure,” he pointed out. “I think in a sense making it more flexible allows it to address the needs of the region specially with the flexibility it will give to the next host.”
Purisima further noted that one of the reasons why APEC engaged the private sector in the whole process of drafting the Cebu Action Plan is to make sure that member economies will be able to achieve its short term initiatives.
“A lot of reforms or proposals will require cooperation between the public and private sectors,” he explained. “We heard a lot of feedback which I think we can bring to our respective countries so we can be more responsive to the needs of businesses and bring to life the various pillars of the Cebu Action Plan.”
“This will be a work in progress,” the finance secretary added. “This will be a journey. The important thing is we don’t lose sight of vision and the benefits to us of achieving that vision.”
On Saturday, Purisima said he is scheduled to meet with officials of Peru, the next APEC host, to turn over the framework agenda and “to make sure they will continue to give life to the Cebu Action Plan.”
“We will work closely with our colleagues from Peru to ensure there is proper turnoever of the Cebu Action Plan,” he disclosed.
So what is next for the Philippines after successfully overseeing the launching of the Cebu Action Plan?
“These four pillars apply to us also,” said Purisima. “We would like to implement them on our own as it refers to domestic issues.”
“We will also continue to work with our other colleagues so we can share our own best practices and we can learn from them their own best practices,” he added. (from PND/acg)