Facing a global economic slowdown and uncertainty in the financial sector, APEC senior officials gathered in St. Petersburg this week to set their priorities for 2012 aimed at boosting growth in trade and investment in Asia-Pacific.
The meeting took place just three weeks after APEC Economic Leaders met in Honolulu, United States, where they took concrete steps toward building a seamless regional economy to generate growth and create jobs.
Chairing APEC in 2012, Russia announced the theme for next year, “Integrate to Grow, Innovate to Prosper”, and pledged to facilitate APEC’s collective efforts to increase sustainability and the pace of development.
With full support from APEC member economies, Russian Senior Official, Ambassador Gennady Ovechko, announced that APEC will seek to achieve tangible results based on the following priorities:
- Liberalizing trade and investment and expanding regional economic integration
- Strengthening food security;
- Establishing reliable supply chains; and
- Fostering innovative growth.
Ambassador Ovechko said regional economic integration plays a key role in promoting peace and stability. Describing the shift towards the Asia-Pacific, he expressed concern that the Eurozone crisis could influence financial distortions on world commodity markets, trade and investment.
“To address these concerns, APEC will seek to make progress on a number of issues such as integration, investments, fighting protectionism, securing food markets, establishing reliable supply chains and fostering innovation policies,” said Ambassador Ovechko, who chaired the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting.
He said APEC has an important role to play in improving regional and global food security.
“Facing major challenges to the food supply, such as price fluctuations, APEC will search for sustainable development in the agricultural sector, facilitation of investment and trade, establishing efficient and resilient food markets and market infrastructure.”
“In 2012, APEC will pursue proposals for sustainable agricultural development and stable markets including increased transparency, monitoring and information exchange on agricultural production, and developing policies for community resilience and a more inclusive food supply for socially vulnerable population groups.”
Ambassador Ovechko also said APEC will prioritize addressing the major chokepoints in supply chains to better ensure the smooth flow of trade.
“Reliability of the supply chain is the key issue in APEC and worldwide. They should respond to possible risks related to routing, maintenance and development,” said Ovechko. “It is necessary to ensure appropriate risk management, safe operation and protection of transport and transportation facilities.”
In 2012, APEC plans to push for policies that encourage innovation in the region that will increase productivity and ensure economic growth.
“We believe that fostering cooperation in innovation will help us boost future trade and investment in APEC, improve existing and build new global production and supply chains,” he said.
“Some areas include developing hi-tech sectors and addressing barriers to investment; promoting technological progress among all APEC economies through networking among innovation centers; and providing APEC platforms for cooperation where business and scientists can discuss markets and policy needs.”
APEC officials will convene throughout 2012 in Russia, including Moscow in February, Kazan in June and Vladivostok in September. Ministers will also meet during the year in these cities, as well as in St. Petersburg, Khabarovsk and Yaroslavl. Finally, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will be held on Russky Island in Vladivostok on 8 - 9 September 2012.
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