By Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria

The APEC Secretariat expresses our deepest sympathies on the passing of the very charismatic Australian leader and former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

He was a pivotal figure in the creation of APEC. In January 1989, Mr. Hawke proposed a simple idea. As economies in a region ascend to the global stage, he said, let us help each other in our mutual pursuit of more trade, partnership, and prosperity. The idea took hold and APEC was born in Canberra, Australia, some 10 months later. Soon after, greater trade followed – creating jobs, lifting incomes, and fostering innovation and growth.

Mr. Hawke remained active in APEC and celebrated the resilience of the regional economy, and of the forum too.

The Asia-Pacific is more cohesive, prosperous and resilient today than it was when APEC was founded, Mr. Hawke declared. He then praised technical collaboration within APEC to improve the flow of goods, people and capital across borders, as well as the forum’s collective achievement in strengthening the capacity of its members to tackle development challenges.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Hawke’s family and the people of Australia. We too will greatly miss Mr. Hawke and his unwavering optimism and enthusiasm – for our dynamic region and for the greater good. His inspiration remains. We will continue to follow his footsteps and strive for confidence-building economic cooperation that fosters shared prosperity for all people across the Pacific Rim.

Bob Hawke was a much-loved Australian icon and will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace!