Focus on shipping and logistics issues

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. asked fellow Asia-Pacific leaders to pay close attention to the challenges facing the region’s freight and logistics services sector, recognizing its role as “the backbone of global trade and investment.”

Marcos made the call during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Informal Leaders’ Dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday.

“Shipping and logistics are the backbone of global trade and investment, yet we haven’t paid much attention to them,” Marcus told APEC members.

Citing the case of the Philippines, the president said companies in the country absorb up to 30 percent of costs from logistics alone, and have “one of the highest rates in the region.”

“With logistics being a pivotal part of supply chains, this limits the integration of our products into global value chains and limits our access to critical raw materials,” he said.

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Marcos called on governments to “eliminate all forms of discrimination”, especially for products coming from micro, small and medium enterprises.

He noted that there are ways to address non-trade and other related measures without denying MSMEs and MSMEs access and participation in supply chains.

The president said close cooperation with companies, especially MSMEs, would help improve their capabilities and promote a “competitive environment”.

“We look forward to this forum as a platform for exchanging best practices,” he said. “By ensuring the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises in global supply chains, we will have diversified our sources of supply, promote sustainable and inclusive growth, and enhance the competitiveness of our economies.”

Marcus also highlighted the essential role of maritime crew, the maritime industry and the transportation sector in ensuring strong and resilient global supply chains and post-pandemic recovery.

He said that there is a need for more discussions and cooperation in these areas, and called on his counterparts to empower each member economy to meet the challenges and needs of the sector and essential workers.

Meanwhile, Marcos asked his foreign counterparts to create a “free, fair and inclusive” trade and investment environment in the region, acknowledging the vital role of the 21-member bloc in promoting “a stable and predictable environment for progress and prosperity over peace and cooperation.”

He said the economies of APEC members should pursue a “responsive and relevant” multilateral trading system by ensuring they comply with existing agreements, including those of the World Trade Organization.

“A free, fair, open, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive and predictable trade and investment environment will help economies to practice responsible policy making which is crucial in ensuring that everyone can participate and benefit fully from trade,” Marcus told his colleague. APEC’s economic leaders during his intervention at the summit’s working lunch.

He added, “Promoting open markets, predictable and fair rules, and an effective system for adjudicating these views are the hallmarks of a responsive and relevant multilateral trading system for building a strong global economy towards greener, inclusive and resilient societies.”

Marcus acknowledged that global trade was a “central feature” in addressing the 2019 coronavirus pandemic and supporting the economic recovery.

He said that the spirit of cooperation will achieve remarkable economic growth.

He added, “As the global focus shifts to reinvigorating growth and charting a course for a strong economic recovery, governments have a responsibility to provide their people with the necessary support for recovery, growth and development.”

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