The Urban Roamer’s Guide to APEC 2015

In the coming days, the Philippines will be host to one of the most high-profile summits to be held in the country as 21 world leaders would converge for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders summit to be held here in Manila from November 18 to 19.

We have heard the preparations for it and some of us have decried the “overkill” in the preparations. But what exactly are we preparing for this APEC 2015 anyway? Today, we shall take time here at the Urban Roamer to understand a bit more about APEC and what it means to us, as well as be informed as to what to expect as far as the preparations are concerned.

APEC IN A NUTSHELL

First things first, we have to know what the APEC is all about and why it is so important to have world leaders attend this meeting. Simply put, the APEC is the most influential annual economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region, currently consisting of 21 world economies that account for nearly half of world trade, and about 57% of global gross domestic product. (GDP)

APEC was established back in 1989 to promote free trade and investment across the Asia-Pacific which by itself is an economic powerhouse of a region with the presence of the United States, Japan, and China, not to mention the new tiger economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea and the developing ones where the Philippines belongs. And every year, the heads of these economies gather together to discuss about promoting economic development in the region through mutual cooperation and partnerships.

But it’s not only the heads of these economies that will be going here to the country for this event. Businessmen and various global industry titans also grace this event to promote ideas and suggest policies that should be taken, especially by the leaders.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

This year marks the second time the APEC summit was held here in the country. The first time the Philippines hosted the summit was in 1996 although it was not Manila but Subic Bay that hosted it. The holding of the event there was an opportunity to showcase the progress of Subic Bay area from US Naval Base to an emerging industrial hub.

The world economic leaders during APEC 1996 at Subic Bay (photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

Since then, a lot of changes have happened. There was the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that affected the region overall, the rising concerns of terrorism in the wake of the events of 9/11 in 2001, and the looming showdown between the US and China as far as security and economy is concerned as the US is brandishing the newly-established Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trading bloc while China has its “Economic Silk Road.”

Thus, this year’s APEC would be more interesting in the wake especially of the last mentioned development as to how the US and China would view each other’s trading blocs. Which side will the other APEC members take, if any? What would this mean for the future of APEC? These things remain to be seen.

THE PREPARATIONS

For now, let us focus on the preparations being made in the metropolis by the Philippine Government, including the Metro Manila Development Authority, with the APEC summit drawing near:

  • The government has decreed that there will be no classes in Metro Manila educational institutions from November 17-20.
  • Work in the public sector in the metropolis is suspended from November 17-20 (save for offices that provide vital services) while work in the private sector is suspended from November 18-19.
  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport is declared a “no-fly zone” area on November 17, 19, and 20. A number of flights in and out of Manila on those dates have either been cancelled or diverted. Better check with your airline if ever.
  • Some roads will be closed off during the meeting, especially the ones near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and the Mall of Asia Arena, where a number of important activities are to be held. In addition, traffic rerouting and special lanes have been set as well.

APEC 2015-1

APEC 2015-2

That does not even count the other preparations under way from the Kenneth Cobonpue-designed dining area to the usual covering up of the homeless people and beggars from the city streets, something the government denies it is doing.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL THE PHILIPPINES GET IN RETURN?

The short of it, a spotlight on the Philippines in a positive manner (something that is really needed after those airport issues) which would hopefully lead to more investments in the country to help spur the country’s economy.

Oh wait, our constitution has that stupid restriction against foreign businesses to have a majority ownership of their investments here.

Tough luck, isn’t it?

That is why the Philippines NEEDS TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION AND CORRECT THIS STUPID PROVISION.

But that’s another story. Sorry for being carried away there.

 

For more details about APEC 2015, check out these resources: APEC, APEC 2015 Portal, Philippine Star and Rappler.

 

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