Dodwell's blog 1 on SOM3 in Cebu

August 27, 2015

Wed Aug 26 2015
So far, so very good. Compared with the challenges of getting to, and working effectively in Boracay for the SOM2 cluster, Cebu and SOM3 has been a breeze.
One good start is that it is possible to fly from Hong Kong to Cebu direct. What a relief not to have to transfer through the dreadful Manila airport.
But then, on arrival in Cebu, the greeting and transport ran more smoothly than almost any SOM I have experienced in the past seven years. Fast-tracked through a teemingly crowded immigration hall, and blessed by the early arrival of luggage, we were swept up in cars and were being spilled into our hotels within an hour of aircraft wheels touching down on the runway.
While the internet in Cebu is slow by comparison with home, there was none of the communications chaos that so confused the first few days of work in Boracay. The Radisson Blu, venue for most of the meetings, has state of the art amenities (and mid-morning snacks to match the best I have tasted anywhere in the Philippines), and even the Waterfront Hotel, where for economy reasons I am staying, is superb by comparison with the dreadful, uncivil reception of the Crown Regency in Boracay. In short, the infrastructure is working impeccably, and we have nothing to concentrate on but our work. Having meetings spread across four hotels is sometimes a hassle, but shuttles are working smoothly and little time is being lost (unlike the one-hour commutes needed in SOM 1 to shuttle between meetings in Clark and meetings in Subic Bay).
I have been told that Cebu is setting new records. SOM3 will comprise a total of 90 meetings – seven more than the previous record of 83 set at SOM1 in 2010. Of course, this is not necessarily a good thing, given that the APEC secretariat is trying to reduce the bill for organizing the SOM clusters ahead of an expensive year in Peru next year. Most of the increase takes the shape of “Friends of the Chair” groups created over the past year, High Level Dialogues aimed at embracing the business community more effectively, and other technical workshops linked with different working Groups. And of course the addition of a Structural Reform Ministerial has made a difference.
But so far, no-one seems overwhelmed. Early away was the Business Mobility Group, where ABAC has on behalf of the  business community been lobbying APEC economies to adopt electronic lodgement of APEC Business Travel Card applications. This would enable applicants to go on line and fill out their application on an electronic form. So far, there seems strong in principle support, though I have yet to hear a report of meeting outcomes. From the business viewpoint, this ought to be a no-brainer: it will ensure information submitted is accurate, and it will greatly reduce the pressure on immigration staff who have to process applications.
Which reminds me – we are fast running up on a significant milestone: from September 1 – this weekend – anyone applying for an APEC Business Travel Card will be applying for a five year card in place of the current three year card. That is something worth celebrating. Maybe someone here in Cebu will think of arranging a party.
Waterfront Hotel

Sunset in Cebu
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