Enhancing economic prosperity in the Asia Pacific region

Da Nang, Vietnam will play host to the 2017 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week from November 6-10.

APEC is the leading economic forum in the Asia Pacific region with a focus on supporting sustainable economic growth and prosperity of economies within the region. To date, it is the only such intergovernmental grouping in the world with a commitment to reduce trade and investment barriers without requiring its members to enter legally binding obligations. Instead, it strives to achieve its goals through dialogue and consensus – giving every member economy equal weight to their views.

The 21-member grouping represents approximately 2.8 billion people or 39 percent of the world’s population and contributes to 49 percent of international trade and 59 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

APEC member economies.

This year’s edition themed “Creating new dynamism, Fostering a shared future” is aimed at responding to the urgent demand to propel integration and economic growth in the region amid slow recovery of the global economy after the events of the global financial crisis. At the same time, the summit will also focus on how member economies can harness opportunities from the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the third wave of globalisation.

According to Vietnam’s President, Tran Dai Quang, APEC currently lies at a critical junction amidst rapid challenges of the global environment.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change have laid important foundations for sustainable, inclusive and equitable global development. Yet, the confluence of prolonged economic stagnation, new waves of protectionism, terrorism, regional conflicts and climate change, amongst others, ever more complex and interrelated non-traditional security challenges are exerting far-reaching impacts on each and every economy, business and individual across the world,” he stated in a press release to the media.

Moving forward, the theme also looks to build towards the common long-term goal of APEC for a peaceful, stable, integrated and prosperous Asia Pacific community.

Four priorities of APEC 2017.

APEC’s initiatives towards regional economic integration whilst addressing concerns vis-à-vis sustainability and social equity have resulted in a myriad of positive outcomes for the region.

Thanks to the organisation, regional GDP skyrocketed from 19 trillion dollars in 1989 to 42 trillion dollars in 2015. Compared to the rest of the world which saw total trade rise by 5.6 times from 1989 to 2015, APEC’s total trade rose by 6.7 times to 20 trillion dollars in the same period. Income per capita also soared by 74 percent – which has alleviated millions out of poverty and saw the creation of a growing middle class.

APEC’s contribution to enhancing regional integration saw trade transaction costs lowered by five percent from 2007 to 2010, saving 56.7 billion dollars. Between 2009 and 2015, member economies improved ease of doing business by 14.7 percent across all initiatives as part of its Ease of Doing Action Plan 2009. The same action plan saw customs regulations lightened, which accelerated the movement of goods and services across borders.

Besides trade and investments, APEC also commits to improving people’s mobility and creating a sustainable environment for the future. More than 160,000 travellers have benefited from the APEC business travel card giving frequent business travellers fast track entry and visa clearance via special APEC lanes. APEC is also committed towards breaking down barriers to environmental goods and member economies also agreed to increasing energy efficiency and work towards doubling renewables in the APEC energy mix.

As APEC strives to achieve its goals and ambitions, the road ahead will be an arduous one given the complexities of the global environment. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s hosting of this year’s APEC meeting, has demonstrated its capacity for regional leadership – making it a significant driver towards a more vibrant Asia Pacific business environment for the future.

Trade ministers attend a press conference during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible For Trade (APEC MRT 23) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 21, 2017. (AFP Photo/Kham)

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