Gathering in Putrajaya Opens Year of Optimizing Human Potential
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 20 February 2020
“We want to see the benefits from the shared prosperity agenda translated into work plans for APEC 2020 and for them to touch all segments of society,” said Hairil Yahri Yaacob, describing desired outcomes for the 2020 initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
“We want people from all walks of life to be able to feel what APEC has done for them,” he told the APEC Secretariat amid preparations for the first senior officials’ meeting for 2020, the year in which Malaysia hosts the regional economic forum. Mr Yaacob is the chair of APEC senior officials, who are convening in Putrajaya, a city just a short drive south of Malaysia’s capital.
What officials agree on over the next three days will set the tone for the rest of 2020, a year when APEC will be deciding on what to focus on this new decade.
“The Bogor Goals will expire this year,” referring to the long-term objective of free and open trade that APEC member economies set for themselves in 1994.
“We need to come up with a new vision to chart our direction for the next 10 to 20 years,” he said. “Malaysia will provide the leadership in order to come up with a new vision post-2020 for APEC.”
Under Malaysia’s direction, the theme for APEC is “Optimising Human Potential towards a Future of Shared Prosperity,” which reflects the forum’s recent emphasis on taking a people-centered approach to planning programs and initiatives. This has resulted in studies, workshops and activities geared towards promoting inclusivity, equal opportunity, digital education, assistance for small businesses as well as environmental awareness.
Mr Yaacob however emphasized, on APEC’s mission of promoting open trade in the region, “It remains a top agenda for APEC, in fact, it is the foundation,” he said.
“It is just that we live in an era when issues such as digital economy, digital technology, and sustainability and inclusivity are very important because these matter to people,” he continued, noting that the growth generated through trade must translate to gains felt by the wider population.
“We can no longer see trade and investment just from one angle,” he said.
Multilateral gatherings between officials from different government portfolios have been ongoing since 3 February. Most notably, the APEC Health Working Group met just days after the outbreak of the new coronavirus. It was an opportunity for APEC officials to coordinate with key infectious disease experts and with representatives from the World Health Organization.
Malaysia is expecting to host more than 300 activities with16,000 participants from all 21 APEC economies this year.
The complete list of meetings held in Putrajaya can be viewed here.
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