New trade and growth data offer positive signs for Asia-Pacific economies but greater coordinated action to address the unintended effects of globalization will be needed to sustain it and deliver the benefits more widely and equitably to the region’s people, according to a new report.
The latest APEC Regional Trends Analysis launched alongside a key policy development meeting of APEC Senior Officials in Ha Noi on Wednesday forecasts 3.8 per cent growth for the 21 APEC economies in 2017 and 2018, and 3.7 per cent in 2019. This is up from 3.5 per cent in 2016 and marginally higher than global growth projections.
The improved economic outlook for the APEC region, which accounts for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP, is supported by a recovery in its trade performance. APEC economies’ merchandise exports contracted 4.1 per cent in 2016, down from 8.7 per cent the previous year and in-line with a rebound in world trade.
“The outlook for APEC economies remains one of the strongest in the world and momentum is picking up,” said Ambassador Bui Thanh Son, Viet Nam’s Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and 2017 Chair of APEC Senior Officials. “It is imperative that we continue to work together to keep us all headed in the right direction and ensure that all corners of our societies flourish.”
Senior Officials are focused on the next steps for market integration and trade in the region. This includes the development of measures to better position labor forces and businesses to take advantage of new economic opportunities it creates as well as help those displaced by competitive and technological change.
“Greater clarity, transparency and consistency of trade and economic policies will shape the magnitude and direction of growth in the region near-term,” noted Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit, which authored the report. “Structural reforms that promote innovation, economic participation and social safety nets are needed beyond that.”
The report underscores the need for trade-related adjustments including lifelong access to skills training, temporary support for households affected by structural unemployment, and access to credit and digital networks to enable startups and small business participation in international production and supply chains.
It also calls for the introduction of rules-based trade policies that promote secure market access and limit destabilizing trade distortions, as well as voluntary policy declarations in areas such as labor and environmental standards to ensure fair competition.
“Globalization alone will not lead to a fairer or more equal society,” Dr Hew concluded. “Maximizing the benefits requires complementary policies that will ensure economic inclusiveness and sustainability.”
The Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting will be followed by a news conference on Thursday on the outcomes led by Ambassador Bui. It will set the stage for the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting here this weekend to take further action.
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