Structural Reform Agenda to Focus on Recovery and Resiliency: APEC Policy Support Unit
Singapore, 30 October 2020
APEC member economies need to act decisively to ensure that the next structural reform agenda contributes to building resilience in the region against crises and shocks, not only tackling the challenging tasks at hand, according to a new report.
The final review of the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR), an APEC Economic Committee initiative, was conducted by the APEC Policy Support Unit to assess member economies’ progress on structural reforms efforts and to look for gaps which could be targets for future work.
“Structural reforms remove structural barriers to improve access to economic opportunity and can even help economies to reach a higher growth trajectory,” said Dr Denis Hew, Director of APEC Policy Support Unit.
“In times of economic uncertainty, policymakers often resort to structural reform to support recovery and boost growth,” he added. “It is extremely relevant and important today, given that governments in the region are battling both a health and economic crisis.”
APEC’s structural reform agenda is based on three pillars: 1) developing more open, well-functioning, transparent and competitive markets; 2) deepening the participation of all segments of society; and 3) establishing sustainable social policies.
“To conduct a review on structural reform, we analyse the indicators agreed by economies ranging from ease of doing business, access to basic services and infrastructure, labour productivity and participation rate to business innovation, youth unemployment, and digital infrastructure,” explained Andre Wirjo, Analyst of the APEC Policy Support Unit, who is a co-author of the report.
The final review finds that APEC has performed well in the areas of innovation and productivity across various metrics including labour productivity per person employed. However, more effort is needed to boost university-industry collaboration in research and development, among others.
APEC has made some progress in terms of enhancing the efficiency of its labour markets, making them more flexible and agile. Yet, the report also noted that members should continue to make improvements in certain areas such as better linking employee pay to productivity.
The report further highlights the need for APEC to boost access to basic services and infrastructure as well as to enhance fiscal and social policies, noting that there are variation in performance among members. All the more crucial, members need to improve healthcare accessibility and social protection in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Collectively, APEC has made good strides towards advancing structural reform efforts,” said Wirjo. “However, members should continue making progress in advancing structural reform efforts through the APEC Economic Committee and other fora so that economies can rebuild better post-pandemic.”
Inclusiveness is another key area in ensuring resiliency through structural reforms. The report recommends that members reinforce the importance of holistic approaches to structural reform efforts. On top of core structural reform efforts, member needs to work collectively across agencies to formulate supporting policies in areas such as human capital development and social protection.
Download the full Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform – Final Review Report here.
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