The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members must address “negative” externalities to make their economies “resilient and sustainable,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Thursday (Manila time).
During the opening of the APEC CEO Summit at the George Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California, Marcos said the economic model and international trading system that heightened economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region “are now getting undermined by criticisms due to apparent and exacerbating gaps.”
“Strengthening the system that has led to our cooperation and development must entail addressing the core issues and areas for improvement which are – from the perspective of the Philippines and most if not all of our economies – distributing wealth and welfare effects more effectively and equitably, and ensuring that our economies develop in a manner that is resilient, sustainable, and mitigates negative externalities,” Marcos said.
“These are of paramount importance because we can only be as strong as the weakest members of our economies, of our societies. Regardless of how much progress we make in these halls, if such does not translate to a better quality of life and resiliency, we will remain derailed by even the most subtle of shocks and insecurities that are beyond our control,” he added.
Marcos emphasized the importance of capacitating and empowering disadvantaged groups to ensure “bandwagon support” for sustainability and an expeditious and decisive push essential in the carving of a collectively beneficial path.
He also stressed the need for the continued implementation of actions and initiatives from existing agreements and partnerships, as well as the identification of areas for further collaboration in pursuit of equitable development.
Five strategies, approaches
During the summit, Marcos enumerated five strategies and approaches that would benefit the APEC.
Marcos said the Asia-Pacific region must continue to expand to accommodate seats to “represent all our people,” noting that it could be done through stakeholder engagements, policy dialogues, and expert consultations.
“As decision-makers, ours is the role to take heed and constructively discuss how to stitch our differing contexts together, and multi-directional approaches,” he said.
Marcos also stressed the need to expand and deepen APEC members’ partnership with stakeholders.
“Examples include sharing of aggregated consumer data from industries to enable evidence-based and scalable public programs and projects; recalibration and standardization of reporting structures and assessment templates to take stock of our progress in an equitable and sustainable growth; and not least, collaboration on the development of environmental, social, and governance (ESG), responsible business conduct (RBC), and good regulatory practices (GRP) and other partners and frameworks that will balance profit and prosperity with our accountability to the environment and our people and help ensure that not one group is adversely affected,” he said.
Marcos said capacity-building, economic cooperation and technical assistance, knowledge and data sharing among APEC economies must also be intensified, in order for each member to be empowered and provided with the tools toward sustainable development.
However, he cautioned that the race to sustainability comes with the risk of escalating protectionism, and noted that developing economies are “most at risk of such alienation.”
“As economies embrace new technologies, temptations abound to push for one’s own profit from the development of these technologies or to discriminate imports from those deemed non-compliant to environmental standards,” Marcos noted.
“Those have deleterious effects to not only our supply chains, but will also further exclude our people, especially our small-scale producers, suppliers, and exporters, from participating in global value chains, and thereby limiting their participation in the production and distribution of products and services that facilitate our sustainable transition,” he added.
Marcos said economic reforms should be made to increase the effectiveness of provision of services; redistribute benefits to reduce inequalities and increase living standards; and strengthen economic foundations to resist shocks and crises and propel growth.
He said policy dialogues, especially those that promote inclusion, should remain an important tool in APEC to narrow income divides and afford developing economies with some policy space.
He said APEC members should also address the “biggest” challenges that they are facing, including supply chain shocks, food and energy insecurity, natural disasters, health emergencies, climate crisis, and the negative economic impacts of Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“Guiding us is the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 which, itself, recognizes that progress must be delivered not only in trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, but also in digitalization and innovation, and a strong, balanced, secure, inclusive, and sustainable growth,” Marcos noted.
“These are just a few ideas, and we have a panel here to guide us with their expert insights on a clear and pragmatic way forward. We must leverage APEC’s core value propositions as the premier regional forum in the Asia-Pacific, incubator of innovative ideas, pathfinder for collaborative solutions to emerging trade issues, and platform for forward-looking and responsive economic and trade policies.”
The APEC CEO summit brings together chief executive officers (CEOs), entrepreneurs, thought leaders, senior political leaders, and other stakeholders from the Asia-Pacific region for a business dialogue on global opportunities and challenges that shape the economic, environmental and societal trends in the region.
This year’s gathering focuses on the theme, “Creating Economic Opportunity” and features a lineup of dynamic and diverse speakers to shed light on sustainability, inclusion, resilience and innovation. (PNA)