"We are progressing well in the path to tackling outstanding challenges facing the multilateral trading system and the World Trade Organization. Members have been called upon to be flexible in their engagement," Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat Rebecca Sta Maria noted in a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Thursday.
APEC is a non-binding, collaborative, and consensus-based forum that encourages free discussions and an incubation of ideas that members consequently take to a more formal setting. Officials believe that this facilitating forum is the need of the hour in these times of swift change, according to officials.
"The APEC has, since its initiation, emerged as a guiding light to drive free and open trade and investment. Trade has brought together APEC economies and made them prosperous. We are certain that this fruitful dynamics will be taken forward," Maria noted.
During the meetings, officials and private sector partners from the APEC Advisory Business Council (ABAC) reaffirmed their backing for the multilateral trading system and the forum’s ongoing efforts to tackle major issues, specifically linked to digital trade.
In the run up to the Senior Officials’ Meeting, trade and sectoral officials came together with academics and private sector partners during a multi-stakeholder dialog to deliberate on APEC's challenges and opportunities for it after 2020, the region’s targeted year to achieve free and open trade and investment. The outcomes of the dialog will help in shaping APEC’s vision for the subsequent three decades.
Convening days before the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, to also be held in Vina del Mar, Chile, officials are addressing the slowdown in growth of the global economy and international trade, as well as potential actions for the forum to take to step up trade and other potential growth drivers. Since decades, trade has been the potent force for the region’s economic expansion.
Chile, the host economy of APEC 2019, has outlined four priorities for the year’s agenda of policy discussion. The priorities to be discussed by the senior officials are: next-generation regional integration, or Integration 4.0, building regulatory frameworks for a ‘digital society’, empowering women entrepreneurs and small businesses, and ensuring sustainable growth.