Faced with increasing protectionism and digital disruption in global trade, officials from (APEC) member economies and the Asia-Pacific business community are preparing bold actions to equip the world's growth engine for change, the APEC Secretariat affirmed Monday.
Next steps for securing and strengthening trade flows in APEC were fleshed out during policy consultations between the region's public and private sectors in Tokyo convened by the APEC Business Advisory Council
It sets the stage for a pivotal meeting of Trade Ministers from the 21 APEC economies in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) on May 25-26 to bridge policy differences and find the common ground needed to capitalize on emerging trade opportunities.
"For further regional integration and prosperity of the APEC region, free, fair, high-quality trade and investment growth are necessary. In addition, new challenges —such as digital trade— need to be addressed," explained Kazuyuki Nakane, Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister
This includes building on innovations such as the APEC Business Travel Card, Information Technology Agreement and vision of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific or FTAAP —ideas cultivated through collaboration between APEC and the region's private sector
"The message we are getting from business in the Asia-Pacific is for APEC to keep the wheels of trade spinning," said Dr. Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. "To do that, we are seeking to go further to open and integrate markets without leaving people behind."
"Our focus is growing digital interconnectivity and enabling the development and use of tools like apps and e-commerce to allow more businesses and workers to take advantage of regional production and supply chain opportunities," he continued.
Policy recommendations for advancing these goals will be presented to the region's Trade Ministers in Port Moresby next month by the APEC Business Advisory Council.
"If we want truly inclusive growth
for our communities, including small business, women and those impacted by technological
change, we must continue to reduce barriers to trade and investment," said David Toua, 2018 Chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council.
"Governments and business must each play their part in restoring confidence in the contribution that trade and investment make to improving living standards and creating jobs," Toua concluded.
Note: Information provided by the APEC Secretariat.