Jakarta (ANTARA) - Trade ministers, senior officials, and working-level experts from 21 APEC member economies convened in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday to discuss advancing interconnectedness, innovation, and inclusiveness of trade in the Asia-Pacific region.

They will meet over the next 10 days against a backdrop of persistent economic headwinds and the risk of declining globalization, according to a statement from the APEC Secretariat received on Wednesday.

The statement said that as the Asia-Pacific region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the APEC members will be given the opportunity to engage and focus on how to ensure that international cross-border trade flows smoothly.

They will also focus on how trade can help them address the region’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to economic inequality.

“I can’t stress enough how critical engagement between member economies is, despite differing views on several issues related to trade and investment,” said Rebecca Sta Maria, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, in the statement.

“When officials and ministers convene next week, the task at hand is to ensure we push forward an inclusive and sustainable agenda so that we can protect the future for our people in the region,” she continued.

The proceedings will culminate with the 2023 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting on May 25 and 26, which will be chaired by the United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai.

It will build on new measures advanced at this year’s Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting on May 24–25, as well as policy development exchanges within more than half a dozen technical working groups.

The meeting will be chaired by Nora Todd, who is the 2023 APEC Alternate Chair of the Senior Officials’ Meeting.

US Senior Official for APEC, Matt Murray, said that Detroit represents the story of the United States’ economic revitalization, transformation, and resilience.

“Detroit showcases the importance of cross-border trade with our neighbors, worker-centric trade policies, and an advanced manufacturing industry, making it a perfect location for highlighting economic inclusion and innovative growth,” he observed.

“We are committed to being a good steward of APEC to promote an international economic policy that boosts prosperity, both at home and in the region,” Murray said.

“APEC has delivered success stories in the past three decades and we want to build on this momentum,” he added.

During their meeting, APEC Ministers will discuss practical examples of how trade policies and cooperation on trade and investment through APEC can contribute to sustainable and inclusive trade.

The APEC Trade Ministers will also convene with the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to discuss how APEC can continue to support the multilateral trading system and the WTO.

The unveiling of the APEC Policy Support Unit’s latest Regional Trends Analysis report will also help to guide APEC Trade Ministers’ discussions.

“It is important that we discuss here how to enable an innovative environment for a sustainable future,” Murray said.

“This issue not only covers the digital economy priorities, but it's also how we can use technology to really address the climate crisis, advance environmental protection, and attempt to build a more sustainable future across a whole range of efforts,” he said.

Those efforts include food security, disaster risk reduction, or mitigating the impacts of climate change, he added.

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Anton Santoso
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