Jakarta (ANTARA) - Senior officials of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathered in Lima, Peru, this week to set priorities for 2024 for achieving more balanced, sustainable, and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific.

The priorities were set to face the unprecedented global challenges that have widened inequality and threatened recovery around the region, according to a release on the APEC Informal Senior Officials' Meeting received here on Friday.

The meeting took place just two weeks after APEC economic leaders met in San Francisco, the United States, where they committed to bringing resiliency, sustainability, interconnection, innovation, and inclusion to the region, as well as working together to respond to the most pressing economic challenges.

Peru will chair APEC for the third time in 2024, hosting more than 160 meetings across five cities — Arequipa, Cusco, Trujillo, Pucallpa, and Lima.

A symposium on Peru’s proposed priorities and policy focus for next year was held on Monday, which was attended by more than 200 stakeholders from the public, private, and academic sectors, as well as media, civil society, and international organizations, besides APEC officials.

"We present these priorities not only to the senior officials of the 21 APEC economies, but also to Peruvian society as APEC Peru 2024 could not be successful without the participation of all of our stakeholders to help us achieve the goals stated in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and its plan of action," explained Ambassador Carlos Vasquez, the 2024 chair of the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting.

During the meeting, Ambassador Vasquez shared Peru’s proposal for the overarching theme for APEC 2024 — "Empower. Include. Grow.”

He said that it covers three priorities, namely trade and investment for inclusive and interconnected growth, innovation and digitalization to promote the transition to the formal and global economy, and sustainable growth for resilient development.

"On trade and investment, our intention is to renew the vision of the Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific or FTAAP to consider issues such as inclusion, resilience, connectivity, and sustainability along with traditional trade issues, as well as strengthening of the rules-based multilateral trading system," he added.

Another key focus for the Peru host year will be inclusive growth and ways to dive deeper into the informal economy, as well as how member economies can further support the transition to the formal economy.

“For the first time in APEC, we will introduce the issue of empowering informal economic actors, especially through innovation and digitalization, as well as enabling the transition to formal economy,” he added.

According to the APEC Policy Support Unit, informality exists everywhere, but its impacts and contributions vary across the Asia-Pacific region.

Estimates of informal output across APEC economies range from 8.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States to 56.6 percent of the GDP in Peru.

“And on sustainable development, we will deepen the work on food security to establish principles to prevent and revert food loss and waste, as well as the use of clean and renewable energy sources to achieve economic growth with less carbon emissions,” Vasquez added.

In his opening remarks at the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting plenary on Wednesday, the ambassador reminded member economies that the world is changing and there is an urgent need for APEC to continue delivering outcomes based on its pillars and its long-standing commitment to making international cooperation a concrete tool to achieve growth.

In today's world, Ambassador Vasquez said, prosperity is no longer based on the mere accumulation of material wealth, but on resiliency, inclusion, and sustainability.

"This stresses the importance of human capital as the main asset for economies to grow and develop, we need a people-centered approach to development," he continued.

“We know from data and research that many people, including women and groups with untapped potential, are involved in the informal sector,” said Rebecca Sta Maria, executive director of the APEC Secretariat.

Therefore, she added, it is crucial for APEC to work on practical measures to include more people in the economy and global value chains, including to facilitate the transition from the informal to formal economy.

“Our host year will build consensus, ensure continuity and relevance to the APEC economic cooperation agenda, during what continues to be a challenging and uncertain international environment,” she said.

Senior officials will next meet in the capital city of Lima, Peru, in February 2024.

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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