MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trade has been a powerful growth engine in the 21 economies comprising the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, where MSMEs account for over 97 percent of all businesses, said Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo.
Manila is pushing for greater support for the integration into the global trade and value chain of MSMEs, which provide jobs to more than half the workers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Domingo opened an APEC trade ministers' meeting Saturday on the central Philippine resort island of Boracay, one of many meetings hosted this year by Manila before the APEC summit in November, a government statement said.
Domingo said these small businesses "play an important role in poverty alleviation and long-term growth" in each of the APEC economies and the region as a whole.
Such enterprises represent 98 of all registered businesses in the Philippines, employ about 60 percent of the nation's work force and account for about one-third of the country's gross domestic product, according to the Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry.
The Philippines is seeking the adoption the "Boracay Action Agenda" to globalize MSMEs, which Manila says will foster the participation of these enterprises in regional and global markets.
The move will prioritize the simplification of procedures and documentary requirements for such enterprises, allow them to take advantage of electronic commerce platforms, encourage trade through online publication of tariff procedures and requirements, provide possible innovative financing, and strengthen institutional support, the Trade Department said.
The trade ministers also will discuss support for the multilateral trading system and regional economic integration and start groundwork for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, it said.
Domingo has said the APEC trade ministers are expected to come out with the terms of reference for the study of the free trade area within the year so the study can commence in 2016.