Asia-Pacific business leaders rally for robust global trade amidst rising protectionism

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) voiced concerns regarding the global shift towards protectionism and regional fragmentation, risking decades of economic progress.

ABAC Chair for 2024, Julia Torreblanca of Peru, emphasised that continued commitment to collaboration, open markets and non-discrimination is crucial to the region’s prosperity. “These policies have driven the success of our economies. APEC must stay the course on deeper economic integration to avoid undermining inclusive and sustainable growth,” she stated.

“Guided by our theme of “People. Business. Prosperity”, we have developed a set of recommendations to address these urgent issues. These recommendations cover the strengthening the WTO, revitalizing the strategy for the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), advancing digital trade, bolstering the resilience of global supply chain, establishing a greener trade policy framework to tackle the climate crisis, and empowering women in trade”, said the Chair. “We will present these recommendations to Ministers Responsible for Trade when they meet next month in Arequipa, Peru.”

Meanwhile, APEC BAC Brunei Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Brunei Pengiran Aki Ismasufian Ibrahim said that in the recent ABAC II meetings hosted by ABAC Hong Kong, China with the support of the Hongkong Special Administrative Region (SAR), he was honoured and grateful to attend and engage in productive dialogues on topics such as digitalisation, trade facilitation, and inclusive sustainable economic development.

“It is encouraging to see the good progress and drudgery contributed by the taskforces on the work and recommendations specially to address some of the key issues. As ABAC served as a crucial platform for business leaders to discuss key economic issues and strategies for fostering regional cooperation and sustainable growth, it is vital to continuously drive the coordinated efforts from every APEC member countries in navigating the ongoing challenges for the region,” he said.

On his part, APEC BAC Brunei Member and Managing Director of Exceltech Solutions Sdn Bhd Hafriz Fayadh said, “As we convened for the second ABAC 2024 meeting in Hong Kong, we reflect on the essence of our mission: to foster inclusive growth, innovation, and cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region From energy transition to championing sustainable practices and embracing the circular economy, our discussions underscore our unwavering commitment to shaping a future where prosperity harmonizes with environmental stewardship.”

He added: “With a focus on advancing policies that empower women in business, we reaffirm our dedication to creating a level playing field where talent and ambition know no bounds. Together, ABAC members including Brunei Darussalam, is charting a course towards a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous tomorrow.”

The ABAC Chair noted that a delegation met WTO’s Director General in a recent ABAC visit to Geneva to convey our support and concerns. “We are particularly worried at the prospect of WTO Members agreeing to allow tariffs on digital trade. This will hugely increase uncertainty and costs, which will hit small businesses the hardest.”

On women’s economic empowerment, the Council has developed recommendations that include promoting women’s transition to the formal economy, unlocking women’s access to venture capital and promoting STEM careers and digital skills, including to boost women’s participation in green trade. ABAC applauded the first meeting between APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade and for Women that will take place in May.

“We are deeply grateful to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for their support in hosting this meeting. We were honored by the presence of Chief Executive John Lee who expressed his support for the work of ABAC during his speech at the Welcome Dinner. We specially thank Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Eddie Yue, and Under Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Lillian Cheong for sharing with us their valuable insights.”

ABAC will convene its next meeting in early August in Tokyo, Japan as it works to finalize its recommendations for presentation to APEC Leaders during the APEC summit in November.


Input your search keywords and press Enter.