Philippines to host the APEC Business Advisory Council in Cebu
The Philippines will host the third leg of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) in Cebu from July 27 to 30, headlining the region’s private sector priorities on economic integration, sustainable growth, financial services, inclusion, and digitalization and innovation under the theme of “Equity, Sustainability, and Opportunity.”
As the first international event within its borders since reopening after the pandemic, the Philippines will welcome top business leaders from the 21 APEC economies, who will be discussing ABAC’s approved 2023 Work Program. Simultaneously, this is also a window for the country to present potential business opportunities whilst showcasing the beauty and heritage of Cebu.
“We are thrilled and honored to be hosting ABAC 3 in Cebu this year, and we look forward to not just tackling various areas of economic concern and urgency, but, more importantly, working together in a highly synergized way to produce meaningful insights and solutions,” Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz said.
Mr. Aboitiz also serves as the Vice-Chair of ABAC’s Sustainable Growth Working Group (SGWG).
The working group will lead discussions on effective responses to climate change, realistic decarbonization transition strategies, and efficient and sustainable processes across the regional food value chain.
Other initial areas of focus will be discussed by other working groups and task forces. The Economic Integration Working Group will talk about accelerating the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), supporting the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its advocacy for the rules-based multilateral trading system, improving trade resilience, and promoting trade and sustainability.
The Digital and Innovation Working Group will review the strengthening of cybersecurity, the promotion of coherent and interoperable digital identity systems, and the facilitation of cross-border data flows.
Meanwhile, the Finance Task Force is set to examine the facilitation of cross-border digital financial services, support for a just and affordable transition, financing of sustainable innovation, promotion of interoperable central bank digital currencies, and facilitation of cross-border data flows in financial services.
Finally, the Inclusion Task Force will tackle empowering women and engaging indigenous peoples in the economy, integrating ESG practice for MSMEs, as well as formalizing the informal economy and bridging generations through economic engagement.
Joining Mr. Aboitiz as part of the Philippine delegation is Tomas Alcantara, Chair of ABAC Philippines, and other ABAC members, Joanne de Asis, Francis Chua, and Guillermo Luz. Together, the representatives will be raising key issues relevant to the Philippines, particularly energy security, food security, climate change, and digitalization and innovation, especially with regards to education and the future of work.
Hosting the prestigious international event is expected to bring positive buzz, not just to Cebu’s local economy, but to its cultural life as well. Cebu boasts a long history of being a center of culture and the arts, being home to the likes of the centuries-old Sinulog festival. In 2019, Cebu city was also hailed as a “creative city of design” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Foreign dignitaries will also appreciate Cebu’s coastal and urban attractions, including the 8.9-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, which connects mainland Cebu to the historic island of Mactan, being the country’s longest sea-crossing bridge.
The United States is the host country in 2023 and leading them is Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO of East West Bank. The first 2023 ABAC meeting was held in Auckland, New Zealand last February 12 to 14. This is to be followed by the second meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on April 27 to 30. The fourth and final ABAC meeting for the year will be in San Francisco, California, USA in November.
ABAC’s 2023 Work Program will be discussed by business leaders in each of the quarterly meetings. Detailed recommendations will then be developed and conveyed to APEC governments via APEC Senior Officials, Trade, small market enterprise (SME) and Finance Ministers, or directly to APEC Economic Leaders.
The ABAC was established by APEC economic leaders in November 1995 to provide perspectives and advice from the private sector towards achieving the APEC’s goals of liberalizing trade and investment, facilitating business activities, and promoting economic and technical cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
The APEC is an inter-governmental economic forum created in 1989 meant “to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.” In 2020, APEC Leaders unveiled their Putrajaya Vision 2040 which underscored their vision of “an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all our people and future generations.”