Officials from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies gathered at the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting in Hanoi last week to discuss priorities and key activities for the forthcoming APEC 2017 summit, to be hosted by Vietnam.
Chair of the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Bui Thanh Son, who is also Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the media last week that four Vietnam-initiated priorities for APEC 2017 that contribute to the theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future” were highly appreciated by senior officials, consultants, policy researchers and international development organisations.
These include promoting sustainable and creative growth, the role of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and their competitiveness capacity and creativity in the digital era, and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in ways that are adaptable to climate change.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said at the meeting that APEC was called upon to further transform itself to reassert its relevance and better serve as the premium regional economic forum. He added that the co-operation and integration need to be broader in scope and deeper in substance.
“Economic growth of APEC and beyond is strongly affected by weakening commodity prices, global trade, and the tightening of monetary and fiscal policies,” said Minh. “The risks that can arise from the advancement of new technologies are increasing and may widen the development of disparity among economies.
“We expect APEC 2017 to be another step forward in this long series, with focus areas that benefit our people and businesses.”
APEC 2016’s SOM Chair, Peru’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Quesada, expressed a strong belief in the success of APEC 2017 under the leadership of Vietnam, and highlighted the guiding role of Vietnam in 2017 in moving APEC to the next level. He also expressed his appreciation for Vietnam’s chosen theme and priorities for APEC 2017, which reflect the continuity of APEC’s agenda in 2016.
“I think all member economies of APEC are quite confident in Vietnam’s capabilities of organising a good year,” he told VIR.
The power of trade
“There is a clear recognition in APEC of the enduring power of trade to boost job creation and living standards, but that some adjustments in approach will be necessary moving forward,” said Dr Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat.
“Concerns about fairness and equity provide an opening for APEC to advance globalisation 2.0 [in a way] that is softer, more inclusive, and palatable,” he noted. “The focus must be on who’s benefiting and who’s being hurt, and how to communicate and compensate better.”
Senior Officials will consult with representatives from the region’s business community, policy researchers, and civil society on ways to address these issues, as anti-globalisation and protectionist pressures mount.
They will also consider the findings of APEC’s newly-concluded two-year study on realising a free-trade area for the Asia-Pacific. Also covered was the region’s new roadmap on the development of service, its fastest growing sector and biggest source of employment.