Highlights of the APEC Business Advisory Council Report
APEC and Its Members
The 21 member countries are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.
Background to November 2022 Annual Dialogue Recommendations
In late October, the Business Advisory Council presented these Recommendations to the group chairman for onward transmission to the member countries’ economic leaders. In addition, many drafting participants presented the document formally to their heads of government; the proceedings of APEC’s annual dialogue take place at that highest intergovernmental level, and so it was for this year’s attendance at that venue.
The APEC business themes chosen for the 2022 meeting were:
Embrace the reconnected world with endless opportunities.
Enable in collaborating on new ideas, creativities, and possibilities.
Engage digitized, sustainable, and inclusive new transformational models.
The Recommendations were made against the backdrop of conflict and a deeply concerning global economic outlook. A series of grave challenges - geopolitical, economic, and environmental – are confronting the region and contributing to food and energy insecurity. The ongoing effects of the pandemic, the disruptions in global supply chains, and mounting inflationary pressures have also impaired the APEC region’s ability to achieve the early year goals set out by leaders in the Putrajaya Declaration of 2020, the agreed path forward for where the region should be by 2040.
In writing this report, the business community recognized that this is a time of great disruption, and yet it also presents an opportunity for APEC to demonstrate its collaborative nature. APEC needs strong decision making and bold actions. APEC’s own summary of the Recommendations follows.
Given the official diplomatic nature of this report, the text in this WAIFC opinion comes directly from the original document, as shown in Italics:
“To achieve speedy and sustained recovery, ABAC calls on APEC Leaders to:
Implement monetary policy to keep inflation under control and fiscal policy to head off a wage-price spiral over the short term, such as through targeted support and cash transfers to the most vulnerable.
Confront the food security crisis by pursuing peace and security, multilateral cooperation and redoubling
efforts, engaging all parts of the food system, to facilitate trade and refrain from export prohibitions and
restrictions. ABAC urges the prompt implementation of the new APEC Food Security Roadmap Towards
2030, including the Food Security Digital Plan, to support the adoption of new technologies in agricultural production, distribution and trade, and the adoption of a Bio-Circular-Green Economy Model and regenerative agricultural practices to support sustainability. The private sector must also be empowered to play a meaningful role in the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security.
Leverage trade to achieve health goals by eliminating restrictions to the movement of essential goods and services critical to fighting the pandemic and making vaccines more accessible and affordable, particularly in developing economies.
Reopen borders safely to restore economic activity to normalcy by adopting a more regionally coherent approach to safe and seamless travel through streamlining current regional travel standards and practices and leveraging digital public and private sector collaborations to ensure interoperability between systems.
To regain the momentum for sustainable, inclusive, and resilient growth, ABAC urges APEC Leaders to:
Develop a collective response to climate change, in particular towards an effective transition to a low carbon economy that must underpin implementation of the Putrajaya Vision 2040 and Aotearoa Plan of Action. Business can lead this effort alongside policymakers, guided by ABAC’s Climate Leadership Principles. These principles can be used as a matrix through which to assess and regularly benchmark all climate-related workstreams in APEC. Trade and investment can play a key role, including through increasing access to practical tools, accelerating innovation and leveraging market mechanisms for carbon. APEC economies must work together to develop sound, mutually-reinforcing, World Trade Organization (WTO)-consistent and inclusive trade policy responses.
Incentivize the transition to the use of more sustainable energy and low carbon technology, including the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services and the proposed development of an APEC Roadmap to encourage trade and investment in renewable energy. APEC economies should prioritize a realistic energy transition, supported by greater transparency about decarbonization, and the expansion of financial support systems to aid the transition.
Accelerate regional economic integration by taking prompt action on the multi-year work plan to achieve the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, including through high-standard and comprehensive regional pathways, which officials were tasked to develop by APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade. Our communities cannot afford to wait twenty years for progress. These efforts must respond to the evolving global business environment, including both traditional and next generation trade and investment issues.
Take urgent action to invigorate the multilateral trading system by reinstating the full functioning and necessary reform of the WTO dispute settlement system, and to contribute to the consensus that would produce ambitious outcomes at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in areas of unfinished business, including in agriculture and other reforms, as well as the Joint Initiatives on e-commerce, environmental issues and investment facilitation.
Reset and revitalize the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) economy by focusing efforts towards four key areas: promoting digital transformation; enhancing sustainable practices; building the digital market infrastructure for supply chain finance; and fostering greater economic inclusion.
Encourage faster and wider uptake of digital technologies across the region by investing in the physical infrastructure that undergirds the digital economy; establishing enabling foundational digital infrastructure including through a proposed APEC platform for cybersecurity and the adoption of interoperable trusted digital identities; and bolstering data infrastructure by adopting open data standards to expand value creation and improving requisite secure cross-border data flows. In a pandemic world, digital health technologies assume particular importance.
Establish smooth, secure, trusted, and inclusive cross-border digital trade and e-commerce by developing WTO-consistent digital trade rules that prioritize simplicity and interoperability, and based on international standards, where applicable, to avoid digital policy fragmentation and to reduce the compliance burden, particularly on MSMEs.
Pursue the twin goals of fiscal consolidation and use of fiscal instruments to support structural reforms in advancing inclusive digitalization and sustainability. Policies enabling markets to play a greater role in financing growth will be necessary to sustain our region’s recovery.”
APEC in Action 2022
APEC’s continuing working groups focus on:
- Regional Economic Integration
- Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Inclusiveness
- Finance and Economics
For those readers wishing to follow this work, the website for APEC is here.