Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual has proposed to Asean leaders the establishment of the Asean Creative Economy Working Group (ACEWG) to provide and bolster strategies for “capacity building” in the region.
The Philippines’s trade chief stressed that the proposed working group will promote the growth and development of creative industries and the “wider culture-based” creative economy, which he said would heighten the region’s identity and rich history.
In fact, he said, the Philippines is doing the same in line with the recently passed Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA). Pascual said such is a “crucial enabling measure” in transforming the country’s creative industry and promoting economic growth.
“We in the Philippines intend to make this effort of developing the creative economy a whole-of-Asean initiative,” Pascual said.
Last July 2022, citing the Creative Economy Roadmap, Pascual said the Philippines is targeting to become the top creative economy in the Asean region by 2030.
“By 2030, the Philippines will be the number one creative economy in Asean in terms of size and value, as well as the competitiveness and attractiveness of our creative talent and content in international markets,” the Roadmap stated.
In response to Pascual’s call for support among Asean leaders, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Asean Business Advisory Council “readily expressed support” for the proposal and noted that it would establish a private sector-led counterpart of the Working Group.
The DTI said in a statement issued on Thursday that the Pascual met with his fellow Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) at the 29th AEM Retreat in Magelang, Indonesia to “endorse” the economic priorities of Asean under Indonesia’s Chairmanship for 2023.
According to the DTI, Pascual was joined by Indonesian Chair, H.E. Sulkifli Hasan; fellow Asean Economic Ministers: H.E. Dr. May Fa’ezah Ahmad Ariffin of Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Pan Sorasak of Cambodia; H.E. Dr. Jerry Sambuaga of Indonesia; H.E. Malaithong Kommasith of Lao PDR; H.E. Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Bin Tengku Abdul Aziz of Malaysia; H.E. Gan Kim Yong of Singapore; H.E. Wanchai Varavtihva of Thailand; H.E. Tran Quoc Khanh of Viet Nam; and recently appointed Asean Secretary General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn.
Aside from the creative industry, the Philippine trade chief said Asean should leverage its “niches.”
During the same event, Pascual stressed that as Asean is now at the center of the global economy as a “single market and production base,” there is a need to remain “united” in utilizing Asean’s niche in sectors such as manufacturing and the digital economy with the new normal.
Pascual said this could be further carried out once the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) is upgraded. In line with this, he said the upgraded ATIGA must include “forward-looking” elements to resolve “long-standing” implementation issues.
“It is imperative that we keep an open mind on the inclusion of elements or chapters that would meaningfully contribute to the region’s deeper economic integration and stability amidst future challenges or crises,” Pascual said.
Meanwhile, DTI said the economic representatives of Asean states also welcomed the Philippine Senate’s concurrence with the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is touted as the world’s largest free trade agreement.
According to the DTI, the ministers emphasized the importance of ensuring the “full implementation” of the Agreement. Moreover, the trade deal was referred to as one of the “key mechanisms” to ensure that the region’s connectivity to the global value chain remains resilient against a “changing regional economic architecture.”
As one of his priorities, Pascual also pitched to the ministers to develop an Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA). He said, “It is important that we maintain this momentum of accelerated growth, and ensure that the digital economy remains to be at the forefront of Asean’s priorities.”