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Saturday, November 21, 2015

VIEW | Did the PH benefit more by hosting APEC activities?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, also known as APEC, has been the key highlight of national media lately. This is due to the fact that world leaders from member economies of the APEC are converging at the Philippines to meet and collaborate on certain aspects ranging from specific agenda such as tackling women entrepreneurship and addressing corruption to broader topics like reducing trade and investment barriers and achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.

The Philippines, after tens of years of taking turns, has taken the responsibility to host this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting that’s about to end in several hours. One thing to remember is that with or without the APEC, the Philippines could still trade with members of the APEC. It’s not the only avenue to arrange and transact with nations from the Asia-Pacific region, but it provides opportunities to effectively come up with solutions as a lot more leaders and delegates come into economic play. This also gives the Philippines a chance to showcase what sets it apart from the rest.

Now, the question is, did the country benefit more from the APEC Meet?

Let’s take a look at the costs. A latest development in the PH aviation industry has probably sent jitters down some flyers’ and businessmen’s spines as over 1,000 flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been cancelled from November 16 to 20 to accommodate the arrival of world leaders and international delegates. In losses, that’s about $2 billion affecting local and foreign carriers, the hardest hit being the budget airlines which could not afford to rebook stranded passengers immediately or give them accommodations.

Do note, however, that despite these losses for the airlines industry, it doesn’t mean NAIA wasn’t used for profitable purposes. With the influx of thousands of delegates, the government could have earned even just some millions from it. Add to that the fact that the country, as host, has been given this opportunity to be known by citizens coming from the member-economies of APEC, that including citizens from USA, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

But it’s not just the aviation industry that got hit, there’s also the cost to laborers who were given a no-work-no-pay two-day holiday. There’s also the cost to the motoring public who got stuck in traffic and to the business owners who rely on these customers.

Apart from indirect costs, news agencies have reported that the direct cost to the government for hosting APEC members has been a hefty amount of 10 billion Php. However, it should be known that this amount has been allocated for all 47 APEC-related meetings conducted across the country. And that most of this amount was spent domestically or within the country which then goes through the pockets of entrepreneurs and workers who were tasked to each contribute the best effort they could for the success of the events. Just take a look at the Filipino products (giveaways) and services (catering, logistics, entertainment, etc.) applied in this event. This money surely, if corruption has not gotten into its way, benefitted a lot.

And don’t forget the exposure that micro-businesses, small start-ups and soon-to-be leaders have gotten which definitely equates to more future transactions and cooperation. It's like the events have served as an advertising ploy for the PH to showcase what it's got, and hopefully, by word of mouth (from the delegates themselves), the country has been seen as a great investment destination. And oh, each delegate paid approximately $4,000 or 180,000 Php to join the CEO Summit that coincided with the APEC leaders' meet.

Now, did the PH stand to benefit a lot from hosting APEC members? That’s a resounding yes!

But, could have the country done better than just allocating its resources for hosting the APEC community? What about forgoing it and redistributing the resources to education, tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, and defense?

Meanwhile, here are the outcomes of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meting. Photo credits go to Rappler.com for covering the event.


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