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  • Singapore and Asia-Pacific Business Leaders look to achieve integration and inclusion in age of disruption

Singapore and Asia-Pacific Business Leaders look to achieve integration and inclusion in age of disruption

  • ABAC calls for closer regional collaboration among APEC economies to overcome imminent challenges such as disruption and volatility in the geopolitical situation, and in trade and markets, among others.
  • Business leaders reiterated strong support for WTO and private-sector leadership to mitigate climate change impacts.
Thursday, 20 February 2020 [Singapore] From 12 to 15 February 2020, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) represented the Singapore business community at the first APEC Business Advisory Council’s (ABAC) meeting for the year held in Sydney, Australia.

ABAC members agreed that overcoming the challenges of global disruption and volatility in geopolitics, trade, and the digital economy, and economic inequality required greater regional cooperation.

Reiterating their strong support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the multilateral rules-based system, business leaders also stressed the importance of private sector leadership to mitigate the impact of climate change and spearhead the transition into low-emissions economies.

On the digital economy, there was strong consensus that fostering an innovation-friendly, resilient and cyber-secure digital ecosystem was the best way to help unlock growth for under-served groups including women, indigenous communities and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the region.

“One thing is clear: to overcome these challenges, we need more regional cooperation, not less. This was our key message to Senior Officials in our annual Dialogue this week,” said ABAC Chair Dato Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood (see Annex A for ABAC’s media release on the meeting).

Championing Singapore’s interests on digital and innovation issues, Ms Teo Lay Lim, Senior Managing Director, Accenture, participated in a dialogue session between APEC senior officials and ABAC business leaders where views on the challenges around WTO reform, achieving a global response to sustainable growth, the importance of cross-border harmonisation in the digital economy, and delivering inclusive broad-based improvements in people’s standards of living were exchanged.

Ms Teo said, “Through the dialogue, it was clear that the opportunities are real and pursuits are purposeful, in spite of the challenges faced by businesses today. It's also clear that digital transformation is a significant enabler of these pursuits – from providing small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) access to markets and customers, to solving for optimisation to build a more sustainable future and creating an economic environment and system which is more connected and responsive.”

ABAC has set out an ambitious forward agenda and work programme for the year, including engaging with APEC Senior Officials on how best to advance shared goals around integration, innovation and inclusion in the region, in the lead-up to the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November.

SBF CEO Mr Ho Meng Kit said, “SBF will continue to champion trade-in-services issues at ABAC by leading discussions to provide business feedback on initiatives such as the APEC Index for Measuring the Regulatory Environment in Services Trade and the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on Domestic Regulation.”

“Following the agreement on the services workplan for 2020, SBF will work closely with ABAC members to carry out this year’s workplan, in line with the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap and the Final Push on Services for the Bogor Goals. Areas of particular focus include manufacturing, environmental and tourism services and mutual recognition of qualifications.”

ABAC is the advisory body mandated by leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to provide private-sector insights. The next meeting will take place from 1 to 4 April 2020 in Manila, the Philippines.

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