As a member-economy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Philippines is presented with trade and investment opportunities that it should seize to pursue domestic reforms and create a more productive and competitive industry sector.

Francis Mark Quimba, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and director of the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN), said that “the pressure is on the domestic side to make use of the transfer of ideas and concepts” that is happening among APEC’s member-economies. Quimba presented two PIDS studies on APEC, focusing on its role in Philippine trade and investment, at a webinar organized by PIDS recently.

“APEC is an incubator of ideas. We get to learn important issues relevant to us beforehand through APEC. We should take advantage of our participation in APEC by getting as many ideas as we can and incorporating these in our domestic policies and trade agreements,” Quimba explained.

Among the benefits of being an APEC member-economy include the access to funds for building capacities in the region and learning the best practices of more advanced countries in terms of ease of doing business and other economic reforms.

Marie Sherylyn Aquia, division chief at the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of International Trade Relations, shared the same view, saying that “APEC is a vehicle to support domestic reforms” and a “testing ground for Philippine policies and advocacies”. Aquia served as a discussant during the webinar.

“We will always be open to ideas in APEC, to learn from other economies, to drive productivity, and to build competitive industries,” Aquia added.

Despite these benefits, the Filipinos’ perception of APEC is still limited. Quimba said that APEC’s efforts toward trade liberalization and other issues, such as the nurturing of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), social equity, and economic growth, are mostly felt only in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“This signals the need to either strengthen information dissemination or to deliver programs that will effectively bring the fruits of trade liberalization outside of NCR,” Quimba explained.

Aquia said the increasing use of digital platforms brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for wider participation by government in APEC trainings and meetings.

Moreover, Aquia said the Philippines is also given a ‘voice’ through its membership in APEC.

“Big economies used to drive the APEC agenda. APEC has evolved, and the Philippines has helped shape its agenda,” she said, noting that one of the country’s major contributions to APEC was its advocacy on promoting MSMEs, which became one of the main priorities of the APEC summit hosted by the country in 2015.

Watch the video of this seminar at For more videos of PIDS events, go to

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