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Int'l Cooperation

Last updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

 

For APEC to Leave No One Behind

Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2017

"In Vietnam, the one-year income of 210 super-rich people is enough to lift 3.2 million people out of poverty, ending extreme poverty." This is confirmed by Ms Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, Country Director, Oxfam in Vietnam.

Based on household income estimates in Asia-Pacific, the population-weighted income Gini coefficient increased from 0.37 to 0.48 between 1990 and 2014, an increase of nearly 30 percent in less than three decades.

In the current context, the gap between the rich and the poor in the region is expanding ever more. After decades of world growth, bringing the common good of all, the Asia-Pacific region is gradually becoming a region with a clear social and economic divide among rich and poor people.

Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur said that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang this time is an opportunity for political and economic leaders to look straight ahead policy, growth model and failure to move toward common prosperity. These policies only bring economic benefits to a small group while millions of women, workers and farmers are lagging behind.

In its latest report, “Redefining inclusive growth in Asia – How Apec can achieve economies that leave no one behind", Oxfam has eight proposals to realise APEC aspirations for inclusive growth.

1. APEC leaders must recognise that rapidly growing inequality is a serious threat to growth and prosperity in the region. They should agree to all set national timebound targets to reduce the gap between rich and poor, in line with their commitments under Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG 10).

2. Revenue mobilisation is critical to finance sustainable development goals and provide public services. APEC leaders must work together to create tax systems where rich individuals and corporation pay their fair share and put a stop to tax evasion and tax dodging. APEC must foster regional and global tax cooperation to end tax base erosion and profit shifting frameworks, and enhance tax administration capacity.

3. Essential public services have transformational power, therefore APEC members should reaffirm their commitment to increase resources for essential public services such as education, health and social protection. They should respect global targets to spend a minimum of 15 percent of their budgets on health and 20 percent on education.

4. APEC leaders should legislate and implement living wages as a central component of a strategy to promote economic inclusion and reduce the gender pay gap. Governments must live up to the Bali Declaration on labour rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

5. Support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) led and owned by women. APEC should ensure and expand women’s access to credit and capital, and invest in their capacity building, particularly on enterprise development and management.

Equally important, APEC must encourage its members to extend and expand public services aimed at supporting care work, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work. This will allow women to invest time and energy to establish and manage enterprises, and expand women’s life choices beyond economic areas alone.

6. Uphold direct citizen engagement in APEC pillars for inclusion. APEC leaders should promote direct citizens’ engagement in all three pillars of social inclusion – economic, social and financial. APEC can create an enabling environment in which communities contribute to decision-making, ensuring that workers are represented in corporate structures.

7. Create an APEC stakeholders’ engagement mechanism so that representatives from people’s organisations and civil society groups can participate in and contribute to APEC processes. The creation of these mechanisms will demonstrate APEC’s commitment to inclusion.

8. Measuring progress in reducing inequality. SDG 10 states that by 2030, all countries progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population at a rate higher than the national average. Therefore, APEC members must set clear national targets to reduce inequality and collect accurate data on top incomes and wealth, aiming to achieve SDG 10.

Poverty and extreme inequality are not destiny. They can be challenged and eliminated. APEC leaders are in a unique position to put an end to these long-standing problems by building a human economy, where no one is left behind and where we can build a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Quynh Anh








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