MANILA, 15 July 2021
59 participants from the Philippine private sector, among others, representatives from the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN), ASEAN-BAC Philippines, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT), the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Go Negosyo, law offices, SME business owners, academia and many other trade associations and business organizations, attended an outreach event on the ASEAN Trade Repository (ATR, available at https://atr.asean.org) and the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST, available at https://assist.asean.org) on 15 July 2021. The event was organized by the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the European Union (ARISE Plus), in partnership and collaboration with PhilWEN, and held virtually.
“Private sector engagement is a key driver to regional economic integration and also important for purposes of gender equality – women’s participation in the economy is essential for sustainable development and economic growth,” said Mr. Maurizio Cellini, Head of Trade Section of the European Union Delegation in Manila. He further added that enhancement of trade facilitation and private sector engagement are high priorities in the EU’s technical assistance initiatives for ASEAN. He encouraged the Philippines’ private sector, especially SMEs, to take full advantage of these two primary tools of ASEAN public-private cooperation and trade facilitation.
Quoting Ms. Ma. Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia, Chairperson of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PHILWEN), ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) focal point for the Philippines: “Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial populations in the world and micro-enterprise development, especially for women, is key to promoting regional development and growth. The integration and training support provided by EU ARISE Plus, aptly named “ASSIST”, is a valuable tool in bridging the personal development gap that women face due to societal norms. By making the seemingly complex trade systems understandable to women entrepreneurs, the trade facilitation instruments can be transformed from barriers to stepping stones for greater economic participation. This is a laudable development, which AWEN supports as an ”ASSIST” or helping hand in our joint efforts to mainstream women’s economic empowerment in ASEAN”.
This Outreach Event will be followed by the ‘ASSIST Train-the-Trainers Workshop’ on 21-22 July 2021. This training workshop is designed to benefit and help participants to develop, organize and deliver training modules on how to use ASSIST. Participants of the training workshop are expected to become trainers and conduct future capacity building exercises on ASSIST to the benefit of their Philippines’ colleagues, members of their trade associations/business organizations, and fellow entrepreneurs.
The ARISE Plus Regional Project and the EU remain committed to supporting the effective implementation of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) through improved transparency and trade facilitation, by assisting ASEAN to advance the development of the ATR in all ASEAN Member States. The ARISE Plus Regional Project will also remain available to work with the private sector to advance ASSIST by holding regular outreach and awareness creation events and training of trainers, in cooperation with the respective private sector stakeholders, gearing towards greater intra-ASEAN trade and regional economic integration.