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Asia Pacific Business Leaders Call for Forging a New Path on Inclusion, Resilience, and Sustainability


APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) members this week urged APEC Trade Ministers to leverage the challenges facing the region, including environmental risks and the cost-of-living crisis, as opportunities to reflect, learn, and firmly place the region on a new path of economic inclusion, resilience, and sustainability. ABAC’s positions are captured in separate letters to APEC trade ministers and transportation ministers and statements on the WTO and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.


2023 ABAC Chair Dominic Ng noted, “The private sector wants to see governments in the region build on the lessons learned over the last three years of dealing with the pandemic to make trade more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable for all. ABAC is doing its part by bringing forward clear, concrete recommendations to governments that will result in tangible outcomes. Many of these recommendations are captured in the letters and statements that we finalized at our meeting in Brunei.”


Regarding ABAC’s Statement on the World Trade Organization, Ng said, “Our businesses, communities and our planet deserve a future-ready, effective, and enforceable global trading system - that demands ambitious outcomes at the WTO, including on core reforms in agriculture, fisheries subsides and dispute settlement, and in the open plurilateral negotiations on digital trade and the environment."


ABAC’s separate Statement on the FTAAP calls for well-designed and modern trade rules in the eventual FTAAP, building on CPTPP and RCEP, and building out concrete outcomes in the short term that support equity, sustainability and expand economic opportunities for communities around the Asia-Pacific.


Under the theme of Equity. Sustainability. Opportunity. ABAC’s agenda includes a focus on ensuring that micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) can expand their engagement in the global economy. ABAC is developing a supply chain resilience toolkit, a self-assessment tool for MSMEs seeking to enhance their ability to withstand dramatic economic shifts. ABAC is also calling for a mechanism to support MSMEs as they adapt to the environment, social and governance (EGS) investing.


ABAC is advancing a work plan on digitalization that seeks to embed trust in the heart of the digital economy, address cybersecurity challenges, promote digital upskilling of the region’s workforce, and facilitate interoperability for digital trade across borders.


ABAC is also tackling issues at the intersection of trade and sustainability, including launching a study to better understand the impact of carbon border adjustment mechanisms on the region and how to leverage trade policy to enhance access to goods and services that can contribute to solving environmental challenges.


The ABAC II meeting began with the half day Brunei Business Conference that brought representatives from ABAC and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council together with business and government representatives from Brunei. In his opening remarks for the Conference, H.E. Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, Minister at The Prime Minister's Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II, noted that collaboration is key to navigating the polycrisis facing world today.


ABAC members also had the chance to visit businesses and organizations that are driving economic growth and innovation Brunei, including CAE Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre and Ghanim-Brunei Food Industry Development (BFID)

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