Singapore Business Community Joins Senior Business Leaders from the Asia-Pacific in Their Call to Maintain Open Markets & Deepen Regional Economic Integration
- The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) stressed that there has never been a more important time for APEC economies to commit to open markets and deeper economic integration, in view of the current turbulence in global trade and softening economic environment.
- Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, Mr Saw Ken Wye, Chairman of SGTech & CEO of Crimson Logic Pte Ltd, Mr Lawrence Leow, Chairman & CEO of the Crescendas Group, and Mr Goh Beng Kim, Head of Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore, represented the Singapore business community at ABAC’s second meeting of 2019, held from 23 to 26 April in Jakarta, Indonesia..
26 April 2019 [Singapore] - At ABAC’s second meeting of 2019 held from 23 to 26 April in Jakarta, Indonesia, senior Asia-Pacific business leaders noted that the IMF had cut its global growth outlook to its lowest since the Global Financial Crisis, while the WTO had forecast merchandise trade growth to drop to 2.6% this year. Against a backdrop of global trade turbulence, ABAC Chair Richard von Appen stressed that there has never been a more important time for APEC economies to ensure open markets and deepen regional economic integration. This will enable the economies of the region to reach their full potential. The business community reaffirmed its commitment to open markets as well as sustainable and inclusive growth.
The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was created by APEC Leaders in 1995 as the primary voice of business in APEC. The members of this private-sector body include CEOs presidents, and senior executives of leading corporations from the 21 member economies of APEC. ABAC advises APEC on business sector priorities and concerns in the Asia-Pacific. Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, Mr Saw Ken Wye, Chairman of SGTech & CEO of Crimson Logic Pte Ltd, Mr Lawrence Leow, Chairman & CEO of the Crescendas Group, and Mr Goh Beng Kim, Head of Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore, represented the Singapore business community at this meeting.
At the meeting, Mr Saw who chairs ABAC’s Digital and Innovation Working Group, shared how information can be re-used through private sector initiatives to facilitate the seamless flow of trade. He also called for the wider adoption of the APEC Cross-Border Private Rules and discussed plans for an APEC Start-up Challenge Contest that will be held during the APEC Entrepreneurship Summit in Santiago, Chile on November.
Mr Goh, ABAC’s champion on the digitalisation of trade finance, shared on the outcome of the Asia Pacific Financial Forum (APFF) Trade and Supply Chain Finance Workshop held in Singapore on 22 April. This effort would go towards ABAC’s Strategy for the Digitalisation of Trade and Supply Chain Finance which is expected to be submitted to the APEC Finance Ministers in October.
As ABAC’s champion for trade in services, Mr Ho pushed for speedy development of the APEC index on measuring the services regulatory environment as well as the expansion of APEC Trade Repository to also cover services rules and regulations. He also pressed for a more concerted push on promoting the tourism services sector in APEC to enable more sustainable and inclusive growth in the region.
During the meeting, the members of ABAC agreed on a statement (Annex A2) expressing the businesses community’s unwavering support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and encouraging its reform to reflect evolving business needs and models. While the WTO has helped to foster global economic growth and prosperity, create jobs, and alleviate poverty around the world, the WTO is now more than 70 years old. To keep pace with the rapidly changing economy and evolving business needs and models, there is a need to reform the WTO, which now stands at the heart of the rules-based multilateral trading system. ABAC urges APEC economies to engage constructively to support and urgently sustain and reform the WTO.
As part of the meeting, ABAC also prepared its letter to the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, highlighting the Council’s key priorities and concerns. Among the key priorities is ABAC’s call for a continuation of the direction forged by the Bogor Goals1 of free and open trade and investment in the region. ABAC called for the creation of an “Asia Pacific economic community” – a voluntary, non-binding entity, united by a shared commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth. Central to this will be the eventual realisation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. The letter will be presented by the ABAC Chair to the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade at their meeting in Viña del Mar, Chile, in May.
Affirming the Singapore business community’s support to maintain open markets and deepen regional economic integration, Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF said, “SBF and the Singapore business community stand firmly behind ABAC as it sets its sights on developing inclusive trade policies that ensure that members of the APEC region share the benefits of globalization and technological progress.”
“An open, rules-based international order and multilateral trading system has been the key catalyst for growth by fostering global growth. In light of growing economic uncertainty and unresolved trade tensions, like-minded countries must continue with efforts to deepen economic connectivity and integration, so we can continue to create more opportunities and inclusive growth for our businesses and people.”
The ABAC II Meeting saw the participation of 150 business leaders from 21 APEC member economies.
1. The Bogor Goals are a set of targeted goals agreed by APEC member economies in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia. The goals aim at liberalizing trade and investment among the developed economies by 2010 and developing economies by 2020.
Annex A1 - Media release for ABAC II
Annex A2 - ABAC statement on the WTO
Group photograph of ABAC Members