Broaden opportunities for people and ensure more inclusive growth across the Asia-Pacific, urged the 2020 Chair of APEC Senior Officials, host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2020.
At Langkawi, site of the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting, senior officials deliberated the forum’s policy agenda for the incoming year, marked by strategies that emphasize inclusion as much as growth.
“APEC 2020 will focus on redefining the role of trade and investment from one that is solely for wealth creation to one that is also able to deliver social and economic inclusivity,” said Hairil Yahri Yaacob, Chair of APEC Senior Officials in 2020.
The policy agenda unveiled at the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting are addressed through a trio of innovative approaches.
The first priority is to restore public confidence in multilateralism, investment, and trade, which has driven the region’s growth for three decades but perceived as accelerating inequality. As part of its efforts to turn around public sentiment, APEC is exploring methods to gauge well-being other than through GDP and increasing stakeholder participation in policy discussions.
The second priority aims to foster more innovations that promote sustainability, from renewable energy to waste management and recycling strategies, defined now as the circular economy.
“APEC in the past has been shying away from these issues, openly citing that these are not economic issues. What we have to realize is that there is opportunity directly linked to sustainability,” said Yaacob, who also serves at Deputy Secretary General at Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. “Sustainability will become an integral discussion for APEC 2020,” added Yaacob.
The third priority of APEC 2020 is more inclusive economic participation through the digital economy. APEC faces a shortage of digitally-skilled workers, which can impact productivity growth and lead to job losses. Women, who statistically have less access to technology, are particularly vulnerable in an increasingly digital economy.
To reduce vulnerability, APEC can support more inclusive policy frameworks, skills training and constant learning, and foster engagement between entrepreneurs and investors. Among the goals of APEC 2020 are a reference for the region’s economies on the future of work in the digital age, particularly as the rate of unemployed youths in APEC is higher than the global average.
“Technology brings change, but it could also bring huge uncertainties if not managed well,” explained SOM Chair Yaacob.
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