Asia-Pacific ministers vow to overcome protectionism

09:46 | 08/06/2017 Cooperation

(VEN) - APEC ministers responsible for trade recently gathered in hanoi for their 23rd meeting (mrt 23) and shared the opinion that over the past nearly three decades since its establishment (1989-2017), the organization has achieved significant results in trade liberalization and investment, but is facing big challenges ahead.

asia pacific ministers vow to overcome protectionism

Strong growth

According to the world Bank, regional trade and investment has grown continuously. The 21 economies of the asia-Pacific economic cooperation forum account for nearly 60 percent of global gross domestic product (GdP) and 49 percent of international trade transactions, with average tariff rates decreasing from 11 percent in 1996 to 5.5 percent in 2016. The incomes and lives of people in the region have improved continuously thanks to trade and investment development.

The International monetary fund forecast that asia-Pacific economies will grow 5.5 percent this year, higher than the 5.3 percent forecast for 2016. “APEC will maintain its position as a driving force of the world economy and continue contributing to global growth through its manufacturing capacity, provision of services and large consumer market,” Minister of Industry and trade Tran Tuan Anh said.

Vietnam joined APEC in 1998. Since then, the group has played an increasingly important role in the country’s socioeconomic development through trade and investment. aPec member countries account for 78 percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, 75 percent of total value of trade in goods and 79 percent of foreign tourists to Vietnam. About 80 percent of overseas Vietnamese students are studying in APEC countries. Vietnam has established strategic partnerships with 13 out of 21 APEC members.

Challenges and objectives

Despite strong growth of regional trade and investment, delegates to the mrt meeting agreed that new challenges lie ahead. In his opening speech, Prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the Asia-Pacific region is witnessing major political, economic and technological changes. the fourth industrial revolution has had a strong impact on people’s lives. modern technologies have created and will continue bringing new opportunities, along with new challenges, for regional economies.

Indonesian minister of trade Enggartiasto Lukita said 90 million people in the asia-Pacific region still experience hunger and poverty, and this will hinder efforts to increase trade liberalization and investment in the region.

Delegates from APEC economies also shared the opinion that rising trade protectionism, including in some APEC member states, and the gap between APEC member countries in economic development, science and technology, are big hindrances to trade liberalization and investment. Aware of these challenges, APEC ministers responsible for trade affirmed that boosting trade liberalization and investment will be an important objective. they indicated the necessity of having a long-term vision in terms of trade and investment.

PM Phuc said that to promote trade liberalization and investment in the region, APEC members should accelerate comprehensive innovations of mechanisms and policies. In his opinion, trade and investment cooperation among APEC member economies must be strengthened in order to increase value and supply chains and support the business community, especially micro, small and medium enterprises.

In the context of certain differences between APEC economies in terms of culture, political institutions, development policies, as well as the gap in economic development, science and technology, minister enggartiasto Lukita said that along with promoting regional linkages, the APEC community needs to expand trade and investment cooperation with other regions worldwide.

MRT 23 was one of the most important events of APEC 2017. according to Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan

Anh, MRT 23 has achieved the following significant results:

Firstly, MrT 23 was a successful preparatory step towards the implementation of priorities of APEC year 2017 and

the organizing of APEC Summit 2017 in the city of Da Nang in November.

Secondly, at MrT 23, member countries strongly supported the necessity of maintaining APEC’s role as a driving force

of regional economic growth and linkages, and an incubator of regional cooperation ideas for prosperity of the

entire Asia-Pacific region. The meeting reached a consensus on boosting the finalization of the Bogor Goals on trade

liberalization and investment until 2020.

Thirdly, MrT 23 showed APEC’s determination to make further efforts to build a rules-based sustainable and

transparent multilateral trade system as an important foundation of international trade. MRT 23 also showed APEC’s

support for the 11th World Trade organization Ministerial Conference schedule to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina this

December.

Fourthly, MrT 23 checked the contents of initiatives and priorities of APEC 2017, such as further implementing the

Lima Declaration on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP); building an e-commerce facilitation framework;

implementing initiatives on support industries; making an action plan to promote economic, financial and social

development in the APEC region; building an APEC framework for human resource development in the digital era; and

identifying APEC’s vision for the post-2020 period. These positive and practical initiatives will be submitted to the 29th

APEC Ministerial Meeting and the 25th Economic Leaders’ Meeting for approval.

Fifthly, several events were held on the sidelines of MrT 23, including the APEC App Challenge, which aimed to help

small and medium-sized enterprises participate more actively in the regional and global markets, and an APEC

symposium on trade and innovation attended by ministers and representatives of the business community in the region.

Nguyen Hoa