Amid the global economic uncertainty, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies should continue deepening economic integration for resilience and sustained growth even as they should adapt to new business realities, business leaders said.
“Regional economic integration provides the means to deliver APEC’s hopes for economic recovery and sustained growth, job creation, and financial stability,” said Wishnu Wardhana, chair for 2013 of the APEC Business Advisory Council, the official voice of business in APEC, at the third meeting of the ABAC held in Kyoto, Japan, recently.
“APEC should pursue an ambitious agenda that encompasses more open trade and investment, not only in goods but in services as well, enhanced connectivity including hard and soft infrastructure, and deeper and integrated financial markets,” he added.
To achieve these goals, Wardhana said APEC economies should note the evolving ways that governments and businesses operate. “Global value networks and supply chains are the predominant business models in which APEC economies lead the world,” he added.
“Direct government involvement in the markets has been gradually decreasing while at the same time, the outsourcing of traditional public services including the provision of hard and soft infrastructure has been increasing exponentially,” he continued.
He recommends taking specific actions to support this development, “which has created greater efficiency, generated jobs and helped promote inclusivity all across the region.”
ABAC is pushing for making greater progress in establishing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, and initiating a new services agenda since services is a key component of the value chain and can determine an economy’s competitiveness.
It also calls for a multidisciplinary and systematic approach to connectivity to attract foreign direct investments by adopting global data standards and a comprehensive system to infrastructure development.
“Inclusivity and sustainability are also critical elements to building resilience,” Wardhana continued. “We urge APEC economies to take actions to grow and strengthen small, medium and microenterprises and to enhance the participation of women in the economy as part of their inclusivity agenda.”
Another development ABAC pointed out is the growing synergy between the government and business sector in the planning and delivery of economic benefits to the public.
ABAC is pushing for policy partnerships through dialogues and joint meetings. The public-private policy partnerships on food security is promising.
The Asia-Pacific Financial Forum which will provide a regional platform for public-private sector collaboration on accelerating integrated financial markets will shortly be launched.
Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership has held dialogues with six economies promoting public-private partnerships in infrastructure financing and development, said the ABAC.