APEC senior officials are convening to pursue common ground and supportive measures amid a troubling backdrop of uncertain economic recovery, inflationary pressure and climate change complexities in the region.
Convening two days before the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, senior officials are looking at developing a multi-year work plan that covers traditional and next-generation trade and investment issues.
These outcomes will provide strong support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) and further push the agenda for its 12th Ministerial Conference that will take place during the week of 13 June in Geneva and attended by most of APEC’s Trade Ministers.
Each ministerial meeting covers mutual issues of concern, including those at the top agenda, such as WTO reform, fisheries subsidies, and environmental and fossil fuel subsidies reform. Also on the agenda is ensuring a proper response to the COVID-19 pandemic through inclusive trade for micro, small and medium enterprises as well as women’s economic access, investment facilitation, and trade in services.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of APEC and our engagement here to address the increasingly complex challenges we are facing and to ensure a full and sustained economic recovery from COVID, which is still fragile,” said Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Thailand and 2022 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials, as he welcomed APEC senior officials to Bangkok on Wednesday.
“To assure comprehensive recovery, there is a need for us as member economies of the most dynamic region, to drive forward our effort in deepening regional economic integration by refreshing our discussion on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, post-COVID-19.”
Reopening the region through the safe passage mechanisms is a high priority, as member economies recognized the urgent need to bring back business and leisure travel to uphold economic recovery.
“As the world gradually reopens and cross-border travel is becoming more commonplace, there are still variations in terms of entry and health measures across the region. APEC is well placed to promote interoperable solutions to facilitate the safe and seamless resumption of cross-border travel,” Thani added.
Senior officials expressed broad support to increase inclusiveness and work towards addressing climate issues. Under the guiding theme of APEC 2022, “Open. Connect. Balance.”, members explored approaches such as the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model that calls for more holistic and coordinated efforts in shifting mindsets and actions to address imbalances and inequalities in and across economies.
“The present economic challenges need intense efforts of APEC to alleviate the negative impacts on our economy and people. More so, we need to strengthen APEC’s preparedness and resilience against future disruptions,” Thani said.
He added that members’ intensified efforts are needed to alleviate the impact of current economic pressures and that APEC as a forum should deliver “decisive and deliberate actions responding to the evolving global environment so that our stakeholders and people can thrive.”
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade will meet on Saturday and Sunday in Bangkok.