APEC Business Advisory Council Calls for Economic Inclusion and Sustainability
APEC Business Advisory Council Urges Economic Inclusion and Sustainability in the Asia-Pacific Region. ABAC's recommendations set the stage for transformative change.
In a landmark move, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has urged APEC Trade Ministers to seize the challenges facing the region and transform them into opportunities for economic inclusion, resilience, and sustainability. ABAC members, representing the private sector, have conveyed their message through separate letters to APEC trade ministers and transportation ministers, as well as statements on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Dominic Ng, the 2023 ABAC Chair, emphasized the importance of building on lessons learned from the pandemic to create a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable trade environment. ABAC has developed concrete recommendations for governments, aiming to achieve tangible outcomes. Ng stated, "The private sector wants to see governments in the region embrace these recommendations and make trade a force for positive change."
ABAC's Statement on the WTO highlights the urgent need for a future-ready, effective, and enforceable global trading system. ABAC emphasizes core reforms in agriculture, fisheries subsidies, and dispute settlement, along with ambitious outcomes in open plurilateral negotiations on digital trade and the environment.
The separate Statement on the FTAAP stresses the significance of well-designed and modern trade rules, building on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). ABAC calls for concrete short-term outcomes that promote equity, sustainability, and expanded economic opportunities across the Asia-Pacific region.
Under the theme of Equity. Sustainability. Opportunity., ABAC focuses on facilitating the engagement of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the global economy. ABAC is developing a supply chain resilience toolkit and a self-assessment tool for MSMEs, empowering them to navigate economic shifts effectively. Additionally, ABAC calls for support mechanisms for MSMEs in adapting to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.
ABAC's digitalization work plan aims to foster trust in the digital economy, address cybersecurity challenges, promote digital upskilling, enhance digital health, and facilitate interoperability for digital trade across borders. ABAC also recognizes the intersection of trade and sustainability, launching a study on the impact of carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs) on the region. They seek to leverage trade policies to improve access to goods and services that contribute to environmental solutions.
The ABAC II meeting commenced with the Brunei Business Conference, uniting ABAC and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) with representatives from Brunei's business and government sectors. Collaboration was emphasized as key to navigating today's crises, promoting integration, and advocating for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive growth.
ABAC and ASEAN-BAC explored potential areas of synergy, sharing their goals of sustainability, inclusion, and digital transformation. The meeting marked the beginning of a promising collaboration between the two organizations.
During their visit to Brunei, ABAC members had the opportunity to witness firsthand the businesses and organizations driving economic growth and innovation, including CAE Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre, Brunei Innovation Lab, and Royal Brunei Culinary.
This groundbreaking call from ABAC sets the stage for transformative change in the Asia-Pacific region, emphasizing the urgency of economic inclusion, resilience, and sustainability. As the world faces complex challenges, ABAC's bold recommendations pave the way for a brighter future.