JAKARTA — Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials forged ahead to establish common ground for advancing APEC's goal for an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community after a timely cluster of trade, sectoral meetings concluded in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Senior officials from APEC members are continuing constructive dialogue in the face of uncertainties, as noted in a statement issued by the Third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting on Thursday.
"It is important for us to continue our dialogue and work to find common goals, especially against the backdrop of increasingly complex cross-cutting challenges: the health crisis, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities," the 2022 Chair of APEC Senior Officials Meeting, Thani Thongphakdi, said.
"While we have made good progress so far, more needs to be done as we only have three months to deliver tangible outcomes at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week," Thani added.
Building on the momentum to implement the World Trade Organization’s Geneva Package of trade agreements secured during the Twelfth Ministerial Conference in June, APEC, through the Committee on Trade and Investment, is propelling progress in relevant areas, including fisheries subsidies, trade facilitation, agriculture, digitalization and the customs duties moratorium, among others.
"APEC can continue playing its role as an incubator of ideas through capacity building on issues, such as sustainable and inclusive trade, and build on the efforts of the WTO," Thani said.
With the enforcement of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), officials are hashing out technical details of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific’s (FTAAP) multi-year work plan, recognizing that the FTAAP agenda could be more deliberate and coherent with a clear plan of actions.
"We heard recommendations from the private sector through the APEC Business Advisory Council as well as other APEC stakeholders," Thani said.
He also affirmed that APEC members need to continue working on supply chain connectivity and resiliency while exploring next-generation trade issues, such as inclusive trade, labor, state-owned enterprises, and environment issues.
"We need to make trade work better for all by strengthening APEC’s capacity building program throughout the region and reinforce stakeholder engagement," he added.
At the meeting, APEC officials recognized the need to strengthen APEC's trade in services through its competitiveness roadmap, noting that several economies rely on this sector, with an agreement to add a pandemic recovery monitoring indicator to further enhance competitiveness.
Member economies are also advancing initiatives to strengthen resilience and promote environmental sustainability through approaches, such as the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model.
Thailand, the host of APEC 2022, led a substantive discussion on the BCG economy.
The dialogue also seeks to advance APEC’s sustainability agenda in a holistic and integrated manner by emphasizing a whole-of-society and whole-of-APEC-system approach to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable trade and investment, sustainable management of resources and conservation of the environment and biodiversity, and resource efficiency and sustainable waste management.
Looking ahead, the APEC Women and the Economy Forum will take place on Sept. 7 in Bangkok.
Ministers and high-level officials will look to advance the work on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment while tackling the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women’s employment and livelihoods.
Moreover, the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting will be held in Phuket on Sept. 9-10, with focus on accelerating small businesses’ adoption of the BCG, as well as supporting their digital transformation for future resilience.
In October, APEC finance ministers will convene in Bangkok and will address the global and regional economic challenges.