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.
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 25-26 May to bridge policy differences and find common ground needed to capitalize on emerging trade opportunities.
“APEC and the APEC Business Advisory Council have walked hand-in-hand, and what is required now is to come up with prospects for the new digital future,” remarked Kosaburo Nishime, Japan’s State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
“For further regional integration and prosperity of the APEC region, free, fair, high quality trade and investment growth is necessary. In addition, new challenges such as digital trade need to be addressed,” explained Kazuyuki Nakane, Japan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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.
“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,” Dr Bollard 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.