This year has been like no other in recent memory, with a novel coronavirus dominating lives, economic activity and policy decisions. The theme chapter discusses how the COVID-19 has mercilessly exploited old challenges of environmental damage and growing inequality that have not been adequately addressed. It has also accelerated the process of digitalisation, with adoption of digital solutions no longer an option but a necessity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of a coordinated and cooperative response to regional and global crises. Economies will need to share experience and information, develop trust, and build avenues for cooperation and policy coordination.
The next chapter on economic and trade trends shows the impact of COVID-19 on APEC region’s economy, which contracted by 3.7 percent in the first half of 2020. Trading activity in the region was adversely affected by the combined impact of the temporary closure of borders, disruptions in global supply chains, proliferation of trade-restrictive measures, and persistent trade and technology tensions. The APEC region is expected to contract by 2.5 percent for 2020, equivalent to an output loss of around USD 1.8 trillion, while a recovery could be initiated in 2021, hinged on virus containment and continued policy support measures. There are risks ahead, but there are also opportunities to build back better, stronger and more resilient economies.