“Optimising Human Potential Towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot. Prioritise. Progress”
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for APEC Economies to re-examine the earlier identified theme, priorities and deliverables through a COVID-19 lens, which uniquely requires a delicate balance between citizen well-being and economic development. In fact, the crisis has strengthened Malaysia’s resolve to further propagate the concept of Shared Prosperity to the Asia Pacific region. As such, the notion of regional resilience and agility as well as inclusive economic growth has been incorporated into the theme for APEC 2020. This will ensure that the outcomes pursued by APEC this year are relevant and responsive to the present COVID phase that the region finds itself in
Taking into consideration of APEC as a regional economic forum, it is customary for the host of APEC to prioritise regional economic integration as one of the Priority Areas in their hosting year. For this priority, Malaysia has decided to bring to the fore discussions on current global issues in order to re-instil confidence towards the benefits of free trade and investment. The focus of this priority area is for a balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth, which will be attained through regional economic integration in the path that aspires for shared prosperity.
The traditional narrative that the world accustomed to is that trade and investment benefits the businesses and in turn this will generate social benefits that are shared by everyone, subsequently improve living standard across the board. On the contrary, more and more debate on inequality has been pushed to the forefront of economy issue with growing sentiment of populism that ever-increasing wealth concentration is dangerous and a threat to human progress and social cohesion.
Due to these sentiments, Malaysia aspires to change the narrative of trade and investment to suit the current situation by putting people at its core and pursuit of inclusive sustainable growth central, with assurance to leave no one behind.
Technological revolution is something that we have to embrace and if done correctly, can serve as an opportunity for inclusive economic participation, not only exclusive to the young and bright minds, but from all members of society, especially the ones from rural and sub-urban areas.
This priority area will concentrate on women empowerment/gender mainstreaming, youth development, quality of living for the aging society and conducive business environment for SMEs, Start-ups and Social Enterprises. Relevant initiatives will be carried out to enable these target groups to be the catalysts for economic growth through utilisation of digital economy and technologies. Among issues that will be highlighted is the readiness of these target groups to face the disruptions brought on by the 4th Industrial Revolution.
For this priority area, focus will be on how innovative practices can contribute towards sustainable development, as a value-add to the current practices in waste management, food security and energy management.
The topics that will be featured are circular economy, including innovative ways for solid waste management and more effective recycling methods to convert waste to products with commercial value, to generate wealth.
The aim is for APEC member economies to work together to create inclusive economic opportunities for its people, driven by trade and investment liberalisation in the region.
By promoting inclusivity and sustainability as additional drivers of economic growth, the shared prosperity agenda will improve the overall economic and social well-being of the people, leading to sustained increase in living standards. This is particularly true in our current times, as we navigate the region through unprecedented health, economic and social challenges.
Technological revolution is bringing sweeping changes to our lives and transforming the way we do business. The COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently assumed the role of technology enabler. In some ways, it has accelerated the adoption of technology among people and businesses across APEC, as we adjust to the new normal. It has also brought to prominence the need to narrow the digital gap.
There is an urgent need to transform the potential opportunities offered by technological advancement into broader economic benefits for the people of Asia Pacific. This is what Malaysia will be doing for APEC 2020 together with other member economies to ensure that no one is left behind.
The year 2020 signals the maturity of Bogor Goals, a long term target for free and open trade and investment in the region, that was launched in 1994. Malaysia has been entrusted with the responsibility to lead the charting of a new Vision for APEC post-2020 together with the other economies.
This new Vision will serve as the guiding document for APEC in years to come. It will be a primary source of reference that sets the direction for resilient, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region, with an emphasis on achieving greater prosperity for the people of APEC. The Vision will also aspire to preserve the role of APEC as a premier platform for trade and investment liberalisation initiatives, economic and technical cooperation programmes as well as an effective incubator for policy ideas in areas such innovation and digitalisation.