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MSD APEC 2020The Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on APEC Toward 2020 and Beyond was co-organized by Vietnam APEC SOM Chair's office and PECC. The event was attended by about 300 participants including APEC Senior Officials, other representatives from member economies, academia, businesses, regional and international institutions. The Dialogue is a follow up to the APEC Leaders’ Lima Declaration made in November 2016 to start “a series of high-level dialogues on APEC Toward 2020 and Beyond.”

H.E. Tran Dai Quang, the President of Vietnam, opened the Dialogue and shared his vision of a peaceful, dynamic, inclusive, seamless, and people and business-centered Asia–Pacific Community in the 21st century. 

Pascal Lamy, chair of the French committee for PECC (FPTPEC) and former Director General of the WTO reminded that realizing open trade is a painful process but that the governments should place more focus on social inclusion in order to mitigate the negative impact of open trade and globalization. Various effects of globalization is permeating our societies not just more widely but also more profoundly. He urged APEC to 1) resist protectionist pressures, 2) keep opening up trade, and 3) address public concerns about trade head on. 

Dr. Mari Pangestu, co-chair of the Indonesian committee for PECC (INCPEC) and former trade minister of Indonesia said that the governments must become more responsive and responsible. As the pace of technological advancement intensifies, we need to be more mindful of the potential widening of digital divide and further inequality. As the deadline of Bogor Goals approches, APEC needs to rethink its structure and leadership, deliebrate on the next set of goals, and continue to be an incubator of ideas. There is optimism in the next generation and we need to better harness this energy by involving youth more actively.

APEC WS ESAPAPEC Policy Support Unit, Japan METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), and PECC co-organized a one-day workshop on environmental and energy services with various industry experts and related business representatives from both large multinational corporations such as Veolia Environment (France) and Nalco (US) as well as smaller international companies such as Natel Energy (US) and Barghest Building Performance (Singapore). 

This workshop/ trade policy dialogue follows from APEC's ongoing work on Environmental Services Action Plan (ESAP) that was endorsed in 2015 in the Philippines. The main purpose of the workshop was to discuss trends, challenges, value creation, and business models found in specific industries that comprise environmental services. 

Starting with speakers from the WTO and OECD, who provided the background on the classification of environmental goods and services, the following five sessions covered: 1) water business; 2) refuse disposal and recycling; 3) remediation; 4) renewable energy; and 5) energy efficiency. Mr. Andrew Martin, the Chair of WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) negotiations from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia participated in the concluding panel discussion. 

Full program agenda and presentations are available here for download.

24PECCGM24th PECC General Meeting 'Vision for an Asia-Pacific Partnership' took place in Hanoi to coincide with a series of workshops and policy dialogues in the lead up to the APEC meeting for ministers responsible for trade (MRT). 

What are the key challenges and opportunities for the future of the Asia-Pacific partnership? Are current processes sufficient for dealing with the reality of deeper trade and integration in the region? What role should the region be playing in global leadership now and beyond 2020? How can the next phase of growth be made more inclusive, sustainable and innovative, taking into consideration digital revolution? These were some of the issues deliberated at the 24th PECC General Meeting (full program agenda with presentations for download) which drew about 150 guests including PECC members and local guests. 

H.E. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, in his opening remarks, shared his vision “to build a peaceful, dynamic, resilient, inclusive, comprehensively connected and integrated Asia-Pacific community, which gives equal access and opportunities for all.” He underscored that “major drivers should include structural reform, new technologies, especially digital advances, e-commerce, digital trade, quality human capital, competitive and innovative MSMEs, economic, financial, and social inclusion.” [download full speech]

Open trade can work but must be accompanied by public support for such openness with adequate social policies in order for economic growth to be sustainable in the ‘new world of trade,’ stressed Pascal Lamy, Chair of the French – Pacific Territories - committee for PECC and former Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Another feature of the new world of trade is the growing importance of working with non-trade measurements (NTMs) in contrast to the ‘old world of trade’ where much of the focus was on lowering tariffs which will matter less and less. While international trade theory is still relevant, we need to do more to eliminate the differences in domestic regulations.

While free and open trade has contributed to alleviation of poverty and raising the standard of living throughout the Asia-Pacific region, we need to address the problem of inequality in the region.

“There is also emergence of a new digital divide in terms of access to these new services and hollowing out,” said Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu, co-chair of the Indonesian committee for PECC and former trade minister of Indonesia. She added that in order to reduce digital divide, there is the need to enable and facilitate utilization of digital tools and information through education that could heighten the digital literacy for all.

“As we approach the deadline for the Bogor Goals, APEC is at an inflection point, said Dr. Charles E. Morrison, former Co-chair of PECC and distinguished senior fellow at the East-West Center. He suggested that APEC develop a growth-oriented ‘Asia-Pacific Partnership (APP)’ to rebrand and “give primary emphasis to economic growth, jobs, equity, and sustainability dimensions: physical infrastructural development, human resource development, finance, innovation systems, SME opportunities.” Secondly, he said, we should bring “those voices into the regional cooperation that are not now heard enough to be true stakeholders.”

Ivan PomaleuThe annual Standing Committee meeting of PECC took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the eve of the 24th PECC General Meeting. The SC representatives reviewed work in progress and considered new project proposals. The three signature projects underway are: 1) State of the Region report; 2) Asia-Pacific Connectivity Index; and 3) APEC Beyond 2020. 

APEC Senior Official for Papua New Guinea, Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu addressed the Standing Committee members of PECC in Hanoi, Vietnam. As the host economy of APEC in 2018, he said the PNG government will focus on the following four priorities: 

1) Connectivity and regional economic integration - including FTAAP, global value chains and unfinished business and emerging issues beyond the Bogor Goals and 2020
2) Sustainable and inclusive growth - including natural disaster resilience, climate change, MSMEs, women empowerment, food security, and the blue economy
3) Structural reforms 
4) Human capital development and capacity building, inclusive education.

[photo: (left to right) Amb. Ivan Pomaleu, APEC SOM Chair for PNG; Dr. Andrew Elek, member of AUSPECC and the first APEC SOM Chair in 1989]

2017 Singapore Conf LHKThis year's Singapore Conference was co-organized by the Vietnamese and Singaporean committees of PECC with the title, "Post-2020 Agenda: Rising protectionism, economic rebalancing, and diversified growth."

Protectionism is on the rise as trade slows and the blame of job losses and economic slowdown are turned to globalization. Income inequality continues to widen in both developed and developing economies. While middle class purchasing power and consumption are increasing as are activities in the services sector, there is not enough to support the ongoing restructuring of the manufacturing cluster and production value chain. Rapid technological advances that brought radical industrial and lifestyle changes through e-commerce, sharing economy and automation present both opportunities and concerns about the future global economy. In this context, the first plenary will address the need for a coherent approach toward external economic relations. 

[photo: Singaporean Minister for Trade, Mr. Lim Hng Kiang at 2017 PECC Singapore Conference]

The panelists of the second plenary reviewed how much progress has been made on each of the five attributes (balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure) of the APEC Growth Strategy since it was adopted in 2010, especially in respect to SMEs, e-commerce, and financial inclusion. 

The third and fourth plenary sessions covered the physical, institutional, and people-to-people aspects of the Connectivity agenda that was adopted by APEC Leaders in 2014. Promotion of tourism, education services, improvements in 'ease of doing business,' and ensuring food security were the main focus areas in addressing people-to-people connectivity. 

The fifth and last plenary was dedicated to reviewing the Bogor Goals and reshaping the common resolve into another form beyond 2020 when the target date for developing economies to achieve free trade and investment expires. While significant progress has been made on many fronts, some members are still facing the same challenges that have pre-existed while new ones have emerged since. The global economic landscape has changed vastly since Bogor Goals were first announced in 1994, protectionism is on the rise, recovery of major engines of growth remains elusive, export-oriented economies are finding it painful to cope with economic restructuring. With 2020 fast approaching, APEC members need to re-evaluate the original aims of the Bogor Goals and reshape them into new sets of goals in accordance with the changed circumstances.

Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Minister of Trade of Singapore said in his opening speech, "as we approach the deadline for the Bogor Goals, APEC is at an inflection point." "Amidst a backdrop of sluggish growth and concerns about employment, income inequality and immigration, anti-trade sentiments have been on the rise." While the benefits of globalization may not have been distributed evenly, "we should not make globalization the scapegoat for slowing growth and unemployment," he stressed.

Mr. Bui Thanh Son, Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, referred to 2017 as "an unpredictable and critical yera for APEC and the region," in his keynote speech. He added that we were only a few years away from the expiry of Bogor Goals and urged every member economy to join hands to work together and make this year a successful one in the face of many new challenges in the region.

Detailed program agenda is found here.

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