APEC Biz Leaders and Senior Officials on an “Asia-Pacific Community” by 2040
APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines, together with their counterparts in the region met with APEC Senior Officials to discuss ABAC priorities and identify opportunities for collaboration in order to advance APEC goals.
This years’ Dialogue, held in virtual format March 8 evening (PH time) was aimed at implementing the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 for “an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all our people and future generations.” Moving beyond the goal of a free and open area for trade and investment, the new APEC vision, adopted by the APEC Leaders at the Kuala Lumpur Summit last year, placed strong emphasis on the desired attributes of an “APEC Community.”
ABAC Members and Senior Officials, during the breakout sessions, discussed APEC and ABAC priorities in relation to the implementation of the Putrajaya vision, specifically on three key elements – (1) Trade and Investment, (2) Innovation and Digitalization, and (3) Strong, Balanced, Secured, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. All these, against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic.
In the opening plenary, ABAC Chair Rachel Taulelei presented the ABAC 2021 priorities under the theme, “People, Place and Prosperity,” as SOM (Senior Officials’ Meeting) Chair Ambassador Vangelis Vitalis, during the concluding session, underscored the value of collaborating and getting private sector inputs moving forward with the new APEC vision.
Denis Hew of the APEC Policy Support Unit provided the context of the discussions with a presentation on the state of the region – the uneven recovery and unequal impact of COVID-19. “The region faces uneven growth across APEC economies, with the speed of recovery largely hinged on effective virus containment through vaccination access and uptake,” said APEC PSU’s Denis Hew. “Economic recovery requires: 1) universal access to healthcare and widespread immunisation; 2) maintenance of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures; and 3) stepped-up regional cooperation efforts, including structural reform.”
At the economy-level, he shared that the Philippines’ development plan has been updated around five major programs – (1) health system improvement, (2) food security, (3) learning continuity, (4) digital transformation, and (5) regional development – designed to build the resilience of individuals, families, businesses, government, and society under the new normal.
For ABAC Philippines, key takeaway from the Dialogue was that addressing COVID would be integral to the recovery of any economy. “We cannot talk about opening up and building back better unless the pandemic is fully contained and everyone is protected. APEC cannot fully recover when one economy is not yet fully recovered,” said ABAC Philippines chair Tomas Alcantara, “APEC could take a lead role in pandemic response especially in ensuring herd immunity.” ABAC member Sabin Aboitiz, who joined the Dialogue breakout group on Innovation and Digitalization added, “APEC could serve as the catalyst for collaboration and complementation among stakeholders, within and across economies Technology and innovation offers the tools for recovery and opportunities to navigate in yet another new normal.”