Against the backdrop of rising trade and debt risk, finance ministers from APEC member economies convened this week in Port Moresby to determine policy measures for ensuring growth in the changing Asia-Pacific landscape.
Finance ministers, concerned by increasing uncertainty that threatens to undermine the strong outlook for APEC economies, are setting their sights on coordinated efforts to enable digitally-driven and inclusive growth drivers, and improve resilience across the region.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill addressed APEC Finance Ministers, underscoring the importance of accelerating breakthroughs through consensus heading into the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting here in November.
“Papua New Guinea is the biggest economy among the Pacific islands. What happens here has a huge impact on our neighbors in this part of the world,” explained Prime Minister O’Neill. “The policy support we get from APEC helps build our economy and the confidence of the investment community in us.”
Finance ministers considered the latest forecasts for APEC economies, which together account for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP.
“Protectionist trends stemming from trade tensions and the buildup of debt are troubling and a real threat to development and prosperity right around the APEC region,” said Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Hon. Charles Abel, who chaired the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting.
“It is incumbent upon us, APEC Finance Ministers, to remain vigilant and move forward with actions that both propel and harness inclusive opportunities made possible by digital advances,” Deputy Prime Minister Abel added. “How we respond to new technologies will determine our capacity to improve poverty alleviation and build out a new middle class.”
Finance ministers are weighing innovative measures for boosting infrastructure development and financing, banking and financing access, and international tax cooperation and transparency that levels the playing field for businesses and communities in all corners of APEC economies.
They are also assessing ways to enhance disaster risk financing and insurance, and the underpinnings of a more financially integrated, transparent, resilient and digitally-connected regional economy.
The goal is to foster sustained growth that delivers benefits to more people and businesses in APEC economies. Particular attention is on empowering the region’s 100 million small businesses, of which only about 5 per cent directly participate in trade and another 5 per cent trade indirectly.
“More and more, integration and trade growth among APEC economies hinge on investment, data flows and institutional issues around it, not just financial flows that go with merchandise trade flows,” said Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “Work in APEC on digital arrangements for public finance exemplify our new growth imperatives.”
“Digital platforms must have interconnectivity and work for small firms which is where most of our economy is focused in APEC,” Dr Bollard concluded. “We hope that this can help small and micro businesses get easier access into the big growth drivers of the international economy.”
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