The four priorities are Promoting Sustainable, Innovative and Inclusive Growth; Deepening Regional Economic Integration; Strengthening MSMEs’ Competitiveness and Innovation in the Digital Age; and Enhancing Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Response to Climate Change.
According to Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, APEC is making good progress on Vietnam’s four priorities for the year.
“We have agreed on these priorities and are now hearing all other initiatives from other economies,” he said, adding that “We got the clear massage from the leaders at the last year meeting of the forum to focus much more on inclusion, so we do a lot of initiatives that focus on regional economic integration, trade and investment”.
APEC has a work programme on free trade in the Asia-Pacific and is also continuing to work on regional trade agreements, he said.
Alison Mann, Director General of the Asia-Pacific Regional Integration Division under the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said at the moment, APEC catches up most priorities for the year, and thanked Vietnam for putting very good proposals on table.
“We are very pleased to be working closely with Vietnam, particularly on these proposals,” she said, noting that last year, leaders attached importance to thinking about how APEC shall benefit from trade organisations and services to make sure that right policies are put in place to support those who are not managing well.
She said she is waiting for the conclusion of free trade agreements (FTAs) to open the market in the Asia Pacific region, adding New Zealand is chairing a meeting of the working group on FTAs, helping economies to shape up work programmes.
The FTAs are a timely solution to difficult issues that hinder free trade, she stressed.
Regarding the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), Alison Mann said it takes a long time to get the FTAAP but APEC keeps working to see it one day, asking for more collaboration among all member economies in this process.