Keynote Address

by NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan
for the
Crown Regency Resort, Boracay, Philippines
May 12, 2015
          Undersecretary Ferdinand Cui, Vice Chair of the 2015 APEC Senior Officials’Meeting; Philippine Institute for Development Studies President and Chair of the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference Gilberto Llanto; Vice Chair Erlinda Medalla; Executive Director Alan Bollard of the APEC Secretariat represented by Dr. Akhmad Bayhaqi; Dean Fernando Aldaba of the Ateneo de Manila University; Deputy Dean Bokhwan Yu of the Asian Development Bank Institute; government officials; APEC Study Centers’researchers and scholars; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; good morning and welcome to Boracay.
          The Philippines, as host economy to this year’s APEC and APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference, is pleased and honored to gather the best and the brightest academicians and scholars from the various APEC Study Centers around the region.
        Since the launch of the APEC Leaders' Education Initiative in 1993, the study centers have played a crucial role in fostering regional cooperation among tertiary and research institutes through the promotion of increased academic collaboration on our key regional economic challenges. Without a doubt, the research and information dissemination initiatives of now more than 50 study centers in 20 APEC economies have aided in raising awareness and facilitating discussions on APEC-related issues and processes to help support the organization’s vision and goals.
          On our country’s end, through our Philippine APEC Study Center Network led by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, we have produced a number of scholarly publications containing research studies on competition policy, coalition building and APEC, China’s economic growth and the ASEAN, education and globalization, sustainable tourism, and the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, among other topics. In 2014, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs also commissioned the PASCN through the PIDS to undertaken the Research Project APEC 2015 that sought to provide the analytical framework for the substantive priorities and initiatives that the Philippines will advance as the APEC host economy this year. The project’s resulting set of research studies and policy recommendations have also proven indispensable in the formulation of our government’s national plans and strategies. Without a doubt, the APEC Education Leaders’ Initiative which was the motivation behind the establishment of the APEC Study Centers in the different APEC member-economies has lived on. The ASCs are steadily gaining ground and will continue to do so with the support of APEC Secretariat.
          Recognizing the impact of research and development in putting forth the APEC agenda, the Philippine government intends to further tap and increase our collaboration with the APEC Study Centers Consortium. The analytical work that these centers put in will be valuable in sharpening our tools for addressing cross-cutting issues especially on services, trade and investments, supply chain connectivity, and enhancing regional economic integration through the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
          This two-day conference gives us an opportunity for exciting discussions, fruitful exchange of ideas, and sharper policy propositions as we work to build more resilient and inclusive economies. With everyone’s support, we are confident that all of the aforementioned initiatives will be realized by end of 2015.
          As evidenced by the outcome of the First Senior Officials’Meeting in February, our country initiatives were able to draw strong support from co-APEC economies. These initiatives include: improving transparency and trade facilitation through the APEC Trade Repository; fostering the participation of SMEs in regional and global markets through the advancement of an SME Action Plan; and building the competitiveness of the services sector through the formulation of the APEC Services Cooperation Framework.
          As I go through the conference program booklet, I cannot help but to feel amazed at the wealth of knowledge and insights that we will hear today and tomorrow.  As discussions continue in the different working groups and committees, officials of APEC member-economies will constantly need the rational and impartial perspective of the research community to shed light on APEC issues before major policy decisions are made. Policies should be based on careful thinking and meticulous analysis. That can be readily and competently supplied by your group. Indeed, the APEC is fortunate to have the APEC Study Centers. It is therefore important that the research you produce is disseminated widely within APEC and the member-economies—using various formats and platforms that will appeal not only to APEC’s decision makers but also to other stakeholders.
          APEC 2015’s theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World” comes at a very opportune time when the lack of inclusivity in many parts of the Asia-Pacific region continues to persist. The priority areas of APEC 2015 are excellent pathways to inclusivity, yet are fraught with many challenges, including differing national priorities, widening development gaps between member-economies, geopolitical tensions, the enduring threat of climate change and natural disasters, threats to peace and security, and the transnational character of diseases and epidemics, among other issues. With your painstaking analysis of issues, APEC will have a better chance at putting ideas and plans into action, and will be able to craft more effective solutions and anticipate problems before they occur.
          Let me emphasize that it is also very important that our local leaders in our respective economies understand and appreciate the importance of APEC. Support from the local level is critical to advance APEC’s agenda. Mainstreaming the agenda not just in national development plans but also in local development plans is necessary, and this can be achieved through continuous education, information dissemination, and advocacy. This is where our academic and research institutions comprising the study centers become more relevant besides conducting research. I challenge the academics and scholars present in this room to go beyond your teaching and research functions and be envoys on APEC-related matters. Your direct interaction with your students, fellow educators and researchers, and program implementers and decision makers in your localities make you excellent go-betweens between APEC and the local communities.    
          I thank the organizers and benefactors who made the conduct of this year’s conference possible. And to our delegates, please also find time to go around the island and experience the beauty of our country and the hospitality of our people.
          Thank you and mabuhay!

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