“We need to rethink our approach and adopt a future growth model that creates a paradigm shift and addresses the inherent inequalities and imbalances that render our economies vulnerable,” said Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Thani Thongphakdi, 2022 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials who are meeting in Phuket this week to agree on priorities for 2022.
This comes just three weeks after APEC Leaders agreed to policy actions designed to respond to COVID-19 and commitments in accelerating economic recovery and achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, including further actions in tackling climate change, empowering groups with untapped economic potential, supporting the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises and addressing the digital divide.
Chairing the meeting on Friday, Thani assured APEC member economies that there will be continuity from New Zealand’s priority areas to Thailand’s hosting year, with a focus on charting a post-COVID-19 future for the Asia-Pacific region.
“As we move forward from the health and economic crisis, we need to promote long-term growth that is resilient, inclusive, balanced and sustainable,” said Thani. “In this regard, there are opportunities to be derived from economic models like the bio-circular-green economy to place APEC on this desired growth trajectory.”
Revealing APEC’s focus for 2022, Thani announced the theme, “Open. Connect. Balance.”
“Together, we hope to make APEC open to all opportunities, connected in all dimensions, and balanced in all aspects,” he stated. “Our priority is to facilitate open trade and investment and to advance regional economic integration including the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific or FTAAP in the post-COVID context.”
“We also seek to restore safe and seamless cross-border travel in the immediate future, while enhancing business mobility in a more inclusive manner in the long term,” explained Thani. “To truly facilitate trade and investment, the region must be reconnected again.”
Driven by the bio-circular-green economy concept, APEC is committed to advancing its sustainability and green growth agenda by scaling up and accelerating actions through existing work streams and building on past progress.
Thailand aims to host a fully physical APEC 2022, acknowledging the remaining threats of COVID but ensuring members that vigorous consideration to public health measures will be taken to ensure the safety and security of all meeting participants, as well as local staff and communities.
“What makes APEC unique as the premier economic forum is its role as an incubator of ideas and its ability to deliver practical and innovative solutions that respond to our people's needs and challenges,” he concluded. “We look forward to working closely with member economies and all our stakeholders to deliver a successful APEC 2022 that is relevant and addresses today’s key challenges in the region.
Thailand will chair APEC throughout 2022. The First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and related technical meetings will take place on 8 to 27 February 2022 in Pattaya, about 150km southeast of Bangkok.
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