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Trade in APEC seen to recover in 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Trade among Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies is expected to slowly recover in 2016, APEC Secretariat officials said in a briefing Monday.
“Trade has contracted in 2015 and this major contraction is a reflection of the slow economic recovery,” said Denis Hew, APEC Secretariat’s director of policy support.
The foreseen recovery would be due to external demand and imports, particularly of developing countries among the 21 members of the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation, he said.
The actions of the United States and China are particularly seen to affect this recovery.
“The concern is with China’s economy, if it will have a hard or a soft landing,” Hew said. “For the US, will they lower interest rates this year or early next year?”
At the same time, Hew said private consumption remains the main driver of APEC economies.
“Since the crisis, the responses have been more specific to private consumption,” he said.
Alan Bollard, APEC Secretariat executive director, said the economies in the Pacific Rim are also concerned about the integration between manufacturing and services.
This year, APEC is focused on making the economies more inclusive to include small business, the services sector, environment and disaster recovery-related issues, he said.
Advancements in technology, particularly in e-Commerce, will help micro, small, and medium enterprises to become part of the global value chain, Bollard said.
APEC initiatives are working on doing this for MSMEs, particularly on free trade agreements and trade facilitation.
“Goods must move across the borders for small businesses, as well as larger business, as part of global value chains,” he said.
While APEC does not lead in the services sector, the Philippines can show the way, particularly in the trade in services, Bollard said.
Most of the concerns on the services sector do not concern tariff, but non-tariff barriers such as regulation on moving capital, people, and data, he said.
Bollard noted that there are 150 FTAs in the region. “It is all very complicated. But we will judge it by where they are going, if they are in conflict with each other, if it helps to integrate the region to move to the future,” he said.
All these are part of its study on the Free Trade Agreement in Asia and the Pacific, a major project of the formation, to be finalized next year, he added.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.