Foreign Affairs Research Specialist Jovito Jose P. Katigbak of the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) of the Foreign Service Institute participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Study Centers’ Consortium (ASCC) Conference 2018 held on 14-15 May 2018 at the International Convention Centre in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The two-day event featured seven sessions and over 25 speakers from nine APEC Member Economies (Australia, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan). Participants exchanged views and perspectives on diverse regional and global issues, especially those related to the 2018 APEC theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future.”
Innovation and technology were the focus of the first two sessions and included presentations on the development of domestic innovation systems, blockchain technology, and latest initiatives that seek to enhance internet access and improve cross-border trade within APEC. The third session tackled the opportunities and challenges presented by digitalization specifically in the agriculture sector, informal economies, and underprivileged communities.
Discussions then revolved around regional economic integration and connectivity during the next two sessions. All of the speakers highlighted the need to continuously deepen the integration process in a cautious manner and consistently achieve strides in free trade, air connectivity, labor mobility, and reducing the digital divide. The last two sessions delved on novel ideas and prospective solutions to effectively advance structural reform and greater competitiveness of member economies and the APEC region.
Mr. Katigbak presented his paper “The Emergence of the ‘Sharing Economy’ and Best Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region: Imperatives for the Philippines” during the second session. He characterized the nature of a sharing economy and noted the promises and perils of this new phenomenon which disrupts how actors operate and how processes are carried out. The Philippines hosts a number of firms engaged in several sharing economy subsectors (e.g., transport as evidenced by Grab, accommodation as manifested by the presence of Airbnb) and may learn from its regional neighbors in terms of managing such emerging economy. Mr. Katigbak cited the efforts of the governments of Canada, China, Japan, and South Korea in fulfilling various roles simultaneously as they promote sharing economy in their respective spheres. He then underscored the need to adopt proactive and innovation-friendly regulations, foster an enabling environment for platform participants, and raise awareness about the emerging sector, especially among micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The ASCC Conference is an annual forum of academics, experts, and practitioners from Asia-Pacific countries to discuss present economic developments and regional trends as well as explore possible collaboration among APEC Study Centers. The ASCC Conference 2018 was organized by the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute.
(Photos taken from the Facebook page of madNESS photography, the official photographer of APEC 2018)