Cooperation and Coalition: Mobilizing for Services Trade and Investment and Better Regulations

Jakarta, 7 September 2015

Cooperation and Coalition: Mobilizing for Services Trade and Investment and Better Regulations

Cebu City, the Philippines, September 7th 2015. “In the past, services were considered as important, but only from the demand side and seen as labour intensive requiring proximity to transaction and subject to low productivity,” said Sinta Sirait, ISD Executive Director, while opening Session V of Regional Conference of Services Coalitions, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Acting as a Moderator of the session titled Cooperation and Coalition: Mobilizing for Services Trade and Investment and Better Regulations, Sinta Sirait emphasized the importance of services sectors in production activity as part of Global Value Chain. She also addressed how emerging trend in the economy has shifted the paradigm about services sectors.

“But now, it is not only from the demand side, but seen as important as critical intermediate input from the supply side as well. So, services are glue to international production, trading system, and global value chain,” she said.

The session is a side event as part of Regional Conference of Services Coalitions in partnership with APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and a side event of APEC Second Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting, which was held from 6—7 September 2015. This session featured three distinguished panelists, Don Campbell (Co-Chair of Pacific Economic Cooperation Council), George Barcelon (Co-Chair of Philippines Services Coalition), and John Larkin (Chair of APEC Committee on Trade and Investment).

Don Campbell recognised the role of services in supply side. Recent survey by Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) concluded that more than half of respondents agreed the main impediment of export in overseas market was regulatory measures.

“This is the reason why we need to identify each economy’s behind-the-border barriers and act upon them. Around 4,000 people of respondents consisting of policy makers, private sectors, and academias all agree that the lack of understanding about benefit of policy reform is the top reason why nothing happened,” said Don Campbell.

The second speaker, George Barcelon presented that regulatory regime is one of challenges of services sectors.

“The role of services in the Philippines’ economy is continually increasing. Yet, we are still facing numerous challenges, such as constitutional restriction on market access, technological advances, high cost and reliable power, and the growth of the sectors is too concentrated in urban areas,” uttered George Barcelon.

George envisions the role of Philippines Services Coalition, which is initiated by Makati Business Club, is very important to get into more collaborative work with the Government and encourage the Government to simplify regulations on services sectors.

Regarding those behind-the-border challenges, John Larkin reaffirmed that APEC is committed to assist its members and to act as incubator of domestic and regional reform.

“APEC encourages unilateral reform and capacity building in behind-the-border reform. APEC is also a good forum to share best practices amongst its members and access to capacity building initiatives. It is important for APEC to be the cutting edge of commercial development and to be in a position to advise Ministers in policy making,” closed John Larkin.