Asia-Pacific business leaders call for greater economic dynamism

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) expressed deep concerns about the growing pressures for economic fragmentation and the risks that this posed to growth, inclusion and the climate fight.

“We are at a critical juncture for the global economy and the planet”, said ABAC Chair for 2024, Julia Torreblanca of ABAC Peru.

“We must come together and act decisively to create a prosperous, sustainable and stable future for our communities.”

The Chair explained that the week had seen broad-ranging discussions, including with APEC Senior Officials and APEC Executive Director Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, setting the stage for a year of ambitious collaboration. “Our theme for the year is ‘People, Business, Prosperity’, to guide our work across key issues including trade and investment facilitation, digital transformation, sustainability and inclusion,” the Chair said.

Pengiran Aki Ismasufian Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered said, “Being able to represent Brunei Darussalam, as a new member of APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) working alongside renowned & experienced business leaders, together with key stakeholders, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity given in discussing and delivering substantive recommendations on how we can all collaborate efficiently to strengthen the progress on the work that has been done including areas such as digital transformation and sustainability for business growth. We believe that key strategic collaboration or partnership across the APEC region will generate essential opportunities in pushing the narrative around our theme for the year. It is timely that we can utilize the valuable views and insights gathered from this platform in building resilience and adaptation which are crucial traits to weather further possible global downshifts as well as the speed of development and change that we face now and in the future.”

“As a newcomer representing Brunei Darussalam within the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), I am both honored and privileged to bring our nation’s unique perspective to the table and to continue the excellent and exemplary work set by ABAC predecessors. Brunei Darussalam stands ready to collaborate with fellow APEC members to drive sustainable economic growth, foster innovation, and promote inclusive development across the APEC region. With our commitment to fostering an environment conducive to business excellence and cross-border cooperation, we aim to leverage this platform to create opportunities that benefit not only our citizens but also contribute to the prosperity of the entire APEC community,” said Hafriz Fayadh, Managing Director of Exceltech Solutions Sdn Bhd.

The Chair explained that one of ABAC’s big priorities for 2024 was strengthening the economic architecture of the region, working closely with APEC colleagues to make tangible progress towards the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

“The eventual FTAAP should draw on the best of the high-quality trade agreements in the region. But we should also start to build towards that now through practical initiatives, for example on digital trade coherence and responsible artificial intelligence, supply chains, women’s access to financing and the trade tools we need to fight climate change.”

“Another of our priorities is to develop practical ideas about how we can support the transition from the informal to the formal economy. This is a real challenge for many developing economies in the region, hindering our ability to fulfil our economic potential and provide people with more and better opportunities. We want to develop some pragmatic approaches that can help shift the dial.”

The Chair noted that ABAC was also very concerned about the prospects for the upcoming World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, MC13. “We have issued a separate Statement that includes an urgent call for our Trade Ministers to work closely together to drive ambitious outcomes at MC13, including the reinstatement of the full dispute settlement system, and a permanent ban on tariffs on electronic transmissions” she explained.

“We are convinced that this year is crucial for the world. The APEC region is lacking dynamism, with significant social and environmental needs still unaddressed. As business advisors to the APEC Leaders, we are committed to playing our role in collaboratively tackling these challenges. We need to take action.”, the ABAC Chair said.

“We were honoured that Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, the Hon. Liew Chin Tong, opened our meeting,” noted the Chair. “We also had the chance to hear some fascinating presentations on how artificial intelligence can advance competitiveness in our economies, and visited the Petronas Towers,” she said.

“Cooperation and deeper integration have served our region very well for many decades. Our overarching message to APEC policymakers and ministers must be that this must continue,” she concluded.


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