Trade and sectoral officials from the 21 APEC member economies have opened talks in Ho Chi Minh City to enable more compatible and forward-looking trade development in the Asia-Pacific.
Policy collaboration here over the next two weeks, culminating with a meeting of APEC Senior Officials on 29-30 August, will bridge structural and resource gaps for realizing more free and equitable trade and growth in the region.
“Efforts to modernize trade and extend its benefits to more people through new agreements and reforms will increasingly test institutional capacity in the Asia-Pacific to deliver successfully,” said Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.
“We are working in APEC to ensure there is sufficient openness, knowhow and interoperability around the region for next generation trade policies to take hold,” he continued. “Without further progress, implementation bottlenecks risk intensifying to the detriment of all sides.”
Officials are focused on boosting transparency and participation in trade agreement negotiations while easing trade barriers faced by businesses – large and small – at and behind borders. Promoting innovation and trade in the auto, health and ICT sectors are parallel priorities.
“New opportunities for workers will center on services as manufacturing becomes largely automated,” Dr Bollard noted. “Creating a policy environment that better accommodates emerging sectors, and the skills, technology and supply chains that underpin them, is at the top of our to-do list.”
Regional measures for enhancing e-commerce growth and digital entrepreneurship, infrastructure investment and secure trade will be taken forward by officials in support of this objective.
This includes actions that clamp down on health, natural disaster and terrorist threats to Asia-Pacific travel and goods flows as well as illicit trade such as illegal timber and wood product exports.
Agriculture Ministers and officials will concurrently meet on 18-25 August in neighboring Can Tho, in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta, to introduce new initiatives for mitigating the effects of climate change on the region’s agriculture trade and food security.
“Asia-Pacific trade is gradually recovering but remains vulnerable to shocks,” concluded Dr Bollard. “No one economy can insulate itself. APEC is maneuvering to equip policymakers, business and the public to optimally navigate today’s integrated and fast-changing landscape.”