(Source: Manilla Bulletin | November 22, 2015)
Under the banner “Building Inclusive Economies, Building A Better World”, the Philippines hosted the 23rd APEC meeting with P10-billion budget. The question that lingers in the minds of most Filipinos has been: Was it worth it?
People are quick to judge the event from the horrendous traffic and inconveniences that Manileños endured during the week-long event. Some business establishments were closed, small businesses lost their income and workers lost their earnings. But that would be myopic, businessmen should look beyond this temporary loss.
Veteran retailer Bobby Claudio admitted that retail sales suffered. It was down in the Mall of Asia and other APEC closed areas.
“Sales got hit, it was down about 50%, but only in affected stores where APEC security was strict. However, this is a small contribution on the part of businessmen to put in our share to make the APEC a success in terms of security and overall efficiency of the organizers in government and the private sector,” said Claudio, vice chairman for international affairs of the Philippine Retailers Association.
With the resounding success of APEC, consumers are in a feel good mood and retailers expect this to translate to better sales this Christmas season.
“The APEC hosting was an overwhelming success for the Philippines. We have shown the world of our economic gains, our culture of hosting guests. We also got the attention of 20 world leaders of our organizational ability and creativity,” he said.
Francis Chua, honorary consul of the Peru in Manila, said the private interactions between businessmen will result in more trade and investments.
“When an economy hosts APEC it has to invest a lot,” Chua said. The Philippines started hosting various APEC meetings since December last year.
“The government invested a lot because let’s say you are a delegate, you are provided a car, a guide and all,” said Chua.
But in return, what do you get?
“You put your country on the map and they see the Philippines, not just Manila. Guests will go to Boracay, Ilocos, etc. It helps our tourism and business establishments. Look our hotels are fully-booked,” he said.
“We have to look at it beyond the traffic and the government spending,” he said.
During the 3-day CEO Summit, Chua has received a request from the Chinese embassy for two more slots but there was none. The forum was sold out as big global CEOs, 800 of them, converged in Makati on top of the local businessmen in a venue that was supposed to fit only up to 1,000 people.
“I was hoping for a scalper, but there is none in this kind of audience,” said Chua, who is also chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. PCCI alone has received several business delegations from different countries.
“All the big global firms came even those from far away countries like Peru, Chile and Colombia are trying to interact with the locals. They are exploring opportunities. At the end of the day, the benefits will outweigh the cost,” he said.
Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), said that overall the APEC hosting was worthwhile despite the temporary loss of businesses.
“But we should not credit that as an expense, rather consider that as government pump priming activity for the local economy. The money spent just revolved around the domestic economy,” he said.
“We definitely generated interest from the 800 foreign delegates to the three-day CEO Summit,” he said.
“These global CEOs will not come here if they are not interested. It is very difficult to set an appointment with them,” he said.
“The P10 billion or $200 million cost of hosting can easily be recovered and most of all we have generated awareness for our MSMEs,” he added.
But what is most important in this year’s APEC is the Philippines’ success in bringing awareness the plight of the MSMEs to the world.
“We have made significant contributions to APEC. Our work has gathered support for member economies to collectively work towards an Asia Pacific region that addresses gaps in economic development, sustains long-term and inclusive growth, and benefits our MSMEs,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.
According to Domingo, the Philippines has been successful in placing the MSMEs “front and center” of the APEC agenda technical and consultative meetings.
The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (BAA-MSME) calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider opportunities to participate in the global market.
“The Philippines will remain steadfast and persistent in implementing initiatives that boosts growth of the various sectors of the economy, engages local businesses, and generates job opportunities for local communities. We remain committed to our goal of inclusive growth by making the most of the benefits of regional integration and trade facilitation in our own economy,” concluded Domingo.