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Last updated: Monday, September 24, 2018


APEC Priorities Can Contribute to Address Challenges Facing ASEAN

Posted: Monday, November 06, 2017

Barriers to trade, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, are becoming a challenge for the value chain in the Asia–Pacific. Mr Ibnu Hadi, Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam, talked about the priorities proposed by Vietnam for the 2017 APEC in addressing the challenges that are also of concern to ASEAN. Luong Tuan reports.

For the APEC Year 2017, Vietnam has proposed priorities such as: Fostering regional integration and connectivity; promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; enhancing the creativity and competitiveness of supporting micro, small and medium enterprises; and ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture. What do you think about these proposals?
As a member country of ASEAN, the priorities promoted by Vietnam as the 2017 APEC Chair and Host Economy reflects the interests of ASEAN as well as other members of the developing economy in APEC. This opportunity should be utilized to the maximum extent possible to achieve the desired performance economically by viable economies. It is expected that APEC's 2017 priorities can contribute to APEC's efforts to address the challenges that are also of concern to ASEAN.

Under the first priority: “Fostering Sustainable, Innovative and Inclusive Growth”, is expected to advance APEC's achievements in structural reform and innovation, human resource development, and build a sustainable and inclusive community. The second priority: “Deepening Regional Economic Integration”, is expected to increase connectivity, promote global and regional production networks, support industry, and cross border e-commerce facilitation. The third priority:

"Strengthening Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises’ (MSMEs) Competitiveness and Innovation in the Digital Age”, is expected to increase MSME participation in global production network, facilitate MSMEs business environment in digital era, and promote start-ups and innovation of MSMEs. The fourth priority: “Enhancing Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Response to Climate Change”, is expected to face the challenges of climate change, food security, sustainable natural resource management, trade facilitation and agricultural investment, and harmonisation of food safety standards and food loss management.

ASEAN Caucus under the coordination of Indonesia will continue to advance ASEAN's interests in APEC.

Both Indonesia and Vietnam are developing countries with a long history of agricultural production. For you, how can an agriculture-based economy use trade as one of the driving forces for inclusive growth?
Agriculture is a sector that has multiple functions in the economy. It can be a source of growth for the national economy, a provider of investment opportunities for the private sector, and a prime driver of agriculture-related industries and the rural non-farm economy. In Indonesia, most trade in agriculture is an SME activity. SMEs are fundamental in achieving inclusive growth which touches the lives of the most vulnerable and, most of times, marginalized society, namely women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups. Furthermore, Indonesia is committed in supporting and driving SMEs to empower by facilitating capacity building programmes and giving management for micro business.

Existing trade flows are very important for production development in Asia-Pacific countries. However, barriers to trade (tariff and non-tariff barriers) are becoming a challenge for this value chain in the Asia–Pacific. In your opinion, how should we focus on solving this issue?
Tariffs or restriction protect domestic industries and coworkers from foreign competition by raising the process of imported goods. Over the past years, Indonesia has implemented a number of trade and investment measures to develop local industries. Indonesia is working closely with ASEAN Economic Community, together currently representing more than 15 per cent of all foreign value added exports.

As ASEAN countries, we should focus on the key issues, among others: prioritise trade facilitation measures that have greater potential in increasing bilateral trade, accelerate regulatory reforms, increase investment in transportation and logistics infrastructure, and publish trade information online.

Trade effects in production on rural development and poverty reduction in the Asia-Pacific are well-respected. Could you please share more detail about this issue?
The role of trade in economic growth and development is recognised as essential to the well-being of the small rural producer in the developing countries. It is about empowering the rural.

Globally, the issue of poverty continues to be a challenge despite increasing urbanisation. The promotion of the rural economy in a sustainable way has the potential of increasing employment opportunities in rural areas, reducing regional income disparities, stemming premature rural-urban migration, and ultimately reducing poverty at its very source.

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