GENEVA – As the Philippines takes over the chairmanship of the APEC Geneva Caucus (AGC) in 2015, following China’s successful chairmanship, Philippine Permanent Representative to the WTO, Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos, Jr., convened its first meeting on 17 February 2015 at the Centre William Rappard.

In attendance were Permanent Representatives and other Geneva-based officers of the 21 APEC member economies, who lauded the presentations of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for International Economic Relations and APEC 2015 SOM Chair, Laura Q. Del Rosario, and Ambassador Conejos, Jr. as chairman of the AGC, respectively. They also expressed their praises for the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM), which was held in Manila on 08-09 December 2014 and the APEC First Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM 1) in Clark on 26 January to 7 February 2015 – echoing their APEC Senior Officials who attended these meetings.

Undersecretary Del Rosario presented an overview of APEC 2015, themed “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World, and made significant linkages between APEC and the work of the WTO, saying that “the multilateral trading system is the heart of APEC.”

AGC Members acknowledged the importance of inclusive growth, and the work being done by APEC in this respect. They also noted the crucial role of APEC in a host of issues, including food security, SME development, and counter-terrorism.

Ambassador Conejos, in his presentation, reiterated the main objectives of the AGC, which are to: draft and endorse the statement on supporting the multilateral trading system for the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting in Boracay on 23-24 May 2015; as well as draft and endorse the statement on supporting the multilateral trading system for the APEC 2015 Ministerial Meeting and the APEC 2015 Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2015.

He noted that the statements will highlight that the WTO is 'back on track', and that the WTO needs to deliver concrete outcomes this year. Particular attention will be placed on the ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the formulation of a post-Bali work program, and a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes.

Ambassador Conejos’ proposals were well received by the Caucus, and Permanent Representatives who took the floor stressed the significance of this year to the WTO, as 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the WTO and the tenth (10th) Ministerial Conference (MC10) will take place on 15-18 December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. END.