President Trần Đại Quang attributed the success of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) to keeping people and businesses at the centre of development, at a dialogue about the APEC’s future.
“We need to promote sustainable, inclusive and innovative growth, allowing all segments of society to participate in and enjoy the fruits of development and shared prosperity,” the President said on Tuesday in Hà Nội to representatives from 21 APEC economies attending the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on APEC Toward 2020 and Beyond within the framework of the 7th working day of the second APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and related meetings.
“Growth is not sustainable unless it is economically, financially and socially inclusive; unless there is economic restructuring, improving innovation and competitiveness of the economy and promotion of businesses; all while addressing the increasingly negative impacts of climate change, natural disasters, and social and economic challenges.”
Quang noted that drawing up a vision beyond 2020 will help shape the APEC’s values and role in the evolving regional economic and global architecture.
As the APEC – which accounts for 39 per cent of the world’s population, 57 per cent of its GDP, and 49 per cent of global trade – enters its fourth decade, the world is undergoing profound, rapid changes and making an effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to 2030.
“The 4th Industrial Revolution, particularly digital technology, has fundamentally changed the global economic landscape. While technology is further connecting mankind and opening up new development opportunities, it also brings no few challenges,” Quang said.
The President pointed out that extensive economic integration and shifts in technologies, particularly automation and artificial intelligence, were bringing change to industries much faster than economies could adapt. At the same time, a burgeoning middle-class and ageing demographics present new requirements for growth and regional economic integration.
The President raised questions such as, “What has APEC done, and what will it do?” for businesses and people, from mega corporations to millions of micro, small and medium enterprises where the need is more urgent as the region faces issues such as slow and uncertain economic recovery, inequality, and the widening wealth gap among and within economies.
"These risks undo the socio-economic progress achieved till now," he said. “It is vital that the APEC continue to actively respond to changes in the region and the world.”
“Over the next two to three decades, the APEC will need to show vitality, dynamism, resilience and relevance; and assume a global leadership role in addressing regional and global challenges, particularly climate change, ageing population, income inequality, and natural calamities.”
The President called for in-depth discussion among participants to determine several matters: specific measures and areas of co-operation to accelerate the realisation of Bogor Goals by 2020; APEC’s goals and time frame in the post-2020 period, and its co-operation pillars; and steps that should be taken to develop the APEC’s post-2020 vision.
Around 25 years ago, the APEC leaders had set out an ambitious goal, known as Bogor Goals, of achieving free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.
The one-day dialogue is expected to address a range of issues related to the APEC’s accelerated efforts to achieve the Bogor Goals; time frame for the new vision; a revised Bogor, Bogor Plus, or new set of goals; the pillars of co-operation and the role of the APEC in the post-2020 era; stakeholders’ contribution to developing the vision; and steps to shape a post-2020 vision for the APEC.
In his opening remark, Ambassador Don Campbell, co-chair of the Pacific Economic Co-operation Council (PECC), said growth in the region was increasingly driven by domestic demand rather than the external sector.
“This does not mean that trade has become irrelevant – far from it. The external sector is a critical provider of jobs, consumer benefits, and technological upgradation. But it needs to be put in its proper context and cannot be a panacea for the myriad of social and economic challenges that inevitably come with change,” Campbell said.
“These shifts as well as broader political and societal shifts in our economies require a more pro-active engagement of stakeholders in policy formation,” Campbell said. “Without that engagement, we risk adopting policies ill-suited to reality and make decisions that will lack the legitimacy and support needed at home.”
Speaking about critical changes in new technologies, he said the focal point of much of that transformation was the Asia-Pacific.
“The implication of that is that the decisions we make today will have long-lasting ramifications well beyond the one-year cycle that tends to define regional cooperation work. We are being presented with an opportunity to define a forward-looking vision that can help drive sets of policies and rules to ensure that people are sufficiently empowered to benefit from these changes.”
Campbell noted that in the aftermath of the 1997-98 global financial crisis, the APEC had emphasised the need for future growth to be more balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure, to be achieved through a new growth strategy that echoes and updates the APEC’s founding vision.
“That strategic approach of focusing on inclusive growth remains of great importance,” he said.