Last updated: Saturday, April 22, 2017
ABAC: Momentum to Foster the FuturePosted: Monday, March 27, 2017
The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) hosted the first ABAC Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. As the chair, Vietnam presided over the meeting and carried out ABAC’s activities according to the overarching theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”.
Mr Hoang Van Dung, ABAC Chairman of the International APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), said that the First ABAC Meeting (ABAC 1) took place in Bangkok, Thailand from February 19 to 23, 2017. As the chair, Vietnam presided over the meeting and carried out ABAC’s activities according to the overarching theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future” in a bid to maintain economic development in the Asia - Pacific region and ensure benefits for everybody. APEC 2017 focuses on four key priorities: Promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; fostering far-reaching regional integration and connectivity; supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance competitiveness, innovation and participation in global value chains; and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture given unprecedented impacts of climate change
The first ABAC meeting discussed thematic issues regarding economic integration - regional economic connectivity, sustainable development, MSME support, financial and economic cooperation.
ABAC continued to develop initiatives and recommendations for WTO support and anti-protectionism; promote the formation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP); speed up service agenda; and continue to liberalise and facilitate trade and investment.
ABAC's orientations are to foster three pillars: institutional connectivity; human connectivity for establishment of a framework for labour mobility, mutual recognition of professional skills, mapping of regional skills improvement, improvement of procedures of granting APEC business travel cards; and facility connectivity.
ABAC proposed enhancing security and energy sustainability; fostering food security (reducing non-tariff barriers to food trade, etc.); encouraging sustainable resource extraction and building sustainable communities. At the same time, it is necessary to have policy coordination among health, financial and economic ministries to ensure the formation of a healthy workforce.
With regard to MSME support and business promotion, ABAC discussed issues that would create a conducive environment for business operations, facilitate MSMEs to take part in international markets and global value chains, promote human resources development in the digital age; and facilitate women’s economic empowerment.
ABAC stepped up infrastructure investment by developing a structural reform agenda and shaping a favourable investment climate, reviewing APEC Digital Infrastructure Report, expanding and coordinating with global infrastructure connectivity, adjusting the focus of Asia Pacific Investment Partners Strategy; and facilitate MSMEs to access capital.
As a matter of course, within the framework of the meeting, ABAC conducted the APEC Senior Officials' Meeting. SOM of 20 APEC economies took part in the dialogue and discussed in-depth with ABAC members on three topics: Advancing regional economic integration; promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; and connecting, innovating and developing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). With theme-based panel meetings proposed by Vietnam, this year's dialogue was considered to be the most successful, most effective and attended by most APEC economies ever.
Dung added that, amid the growing anti-globalisation and protectionism, ABAC continued to propose APEC to support trade liberalisation and multilateral trading systems; and implement Bogor Goals and move towards FTAAP. And, right now, TPP member economies should stay motivated and confront challenges to adopt the trade pact soon. ABAC also said that APEC should accelerate structural reforms to boost up growth, with particular focus on inclusive development; facilitate MSMEs to connect with global value chains. ABAC and the business community should coordinate to take action with governments to address negative effects of trade liberalisation and globalisation.
After the first meeting in Bangkok, ABAC attended and presented its recommendations at several APEC Senior Officials Meetings (SOM 1) held in Nha Trang City from February 18 to March 3, 2017. This year ABAC will continue its research activities and conduct the next meeting to make formal recommendations to ministers for trade, health, SME and finance, and submit its reports and letter of recommendations to APEC Economic Leaders at the APEC Leaders’ Week, set to take place at the end of this year.