Trade and sectoral officials from the 21 APEC member economies are gathering in the south-central city of Nha Trang to lay a new foundation for a refashioning of globalisation in the Asia-Pacific.
The goal is to set up policy conditions that will be able to enable more equitable trade and growth across the region.
According to organisers, over the next 10 days, officials, guided by APEC 2017 Chair Vietnam, will develop new actions to create economic opportunities and better position people and businesses to take advantage in a world of increasing automation, competition and market change, which range from shifts in consumption patterns to evolving skills and labour force needs.
The proceedings will culminate with the first meeting of APEC Senior Officials in 2017 on March 2-3, 2017 to decide the next steps for building inclusive economies; regional economic integration and connectivity; small business participation in trade; and food security and sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change. They will consider recommendations from the year’s first APEC Business Advisory Council meeting underway concurrently this week in Bangkok.
“All of us recognise that the benefits of globalisation and trade are not evenly distributed and that more must be done to support those frustrated by this disparity and hungry for realignment,” said APEC Secretariat Executive Director Alan Bollard. “We would like to keep the favourable aspects of greater interconnectivity and ensure that more people are better off because of it.”
For emerging economies such as Vietnam, the reduction of poverty that has moved hundreds of millions of people into the middle class is at stake. For developed economies on both sides of the Pacific, greater opportunities to sell their goods and services to these markets, as well as job-creating investment inflows, hang in the balance.
Officials will seek common ground in addressing rising anti-globalisation, protectionism and trade restrictive measures, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, and other mechanisms for achieving fairer trade and growth.
Boosting labour and social protection, startup growth, job creating services sector development and trade opportunities for farmers is a particular focus. Improving access and use of the internet and digital innovation to help small businesses tap into cross-border production and supply chains is another.
“Progress in facilitating digital trade has made it possible for small firms around the region to better manage their operations and seek out clients - whether you’re talking about a family-owned car tire business in Ha Noi, alpaca product producers in the Peruvian Andes or auto parts suppliers in Michigan and Ohio that employ thousands of local workers,” Bollard noted.
“The door can still be widened for groups who have been left behind by globalization in the past,” he said. “We are actively working to sustain this momentum in APEC, realising that a reversal could risk slamming the door shut for all of us in the region and beyond.”