Thu, August 18, 2022


Food security, free trade on agenda of Apec ministers meeting in Bangkok

Food security, digitalisation, and Free Trade Agreement in Asia Pacific (FTAAP) will top the agenda when Thailand hosts a meeting of Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade later this month.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, who heads the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), said that due to the Russia-Ukraine war, many countries were faced with food and supply shortages. So, the issue is quite urgent for Apec members to discuss in order to find some solution to help stabilise the region's economy.

He added that digital transformation and further consideration of a free trade area are also needed in the discussion. Digitalisation would sustain growth while more fairness and openness of FTA would support the flow of trade and people. This is a desperate need in the current situation after being severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

“As a collective force representing the leading growth drivers from 21 economies of the region, the ABAC is committed to upholding not only our own respective businesses but also the business of those people for whom our businesses exist.

“Having been at the receiving end of serious challenges brought about by the global pandemic and other events that affected business operations worldwide, people’s lifestyle, and the sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth of Asia-Pacific, we consider it an opportune time to work together to draft key recommendations that truly represent the voice of the people to the Apec economic leaders in an annual dialogue towards the end of 2022,” said Suphant.

Three major topics have been selected out of eight recommendations that ABAC members had discussed at its second meeting in Canada last month. The eight recommendations to deepen economic integration in the region included: building preparedness against future pandemic shocks; realising the path to an FTAAP; supporting the World Trade Organisation and advocacy for the rules-based multilateral trading system; strengthening services trade; reopening borders for safe and seamless travel; addressing climate change, food and energy security through trade; advancing digital governance; and enhancing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’ participation in international markets.

However, of the eight, the focus would be on three topics when the Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade meet in Bangkok on May 21-22.

The members of the ABAC, under Thailand’s leadership, have worked together under five working groups guided by five strategic frameworks to enable stronger regional economic integration, elevated digital capabilities, better-equipped businesses of all sizes, advanced sustainability practices, and resilient financial ecosystem throughout interconnected Asia-Pacific communities, Suphant said. 

Through rounds of meetings, each working group has contributed key developments critical to drafting the best community-centric recommendations for Apec economic leaders, he added.

Published : May 13, 2022