His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the virtual meeting.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of APEC’s relevance as an economic cooperation platform that has benefitted the people of APEC over the past decades.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said this in a titah during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders for the 27th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) Leaders’ Retreat via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman on Friday.
The monarch said Brunei Darussalam, as an APEC member and ASEAN Chair in 2021, looks forward to working closely with all economies in continuing the regional economic revitalisation agenda, and urged APEC to leverage upon its collaboration with other international organisations.
His Majesty also stated that Brunei Darussalam welcomes the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which provides renewed impetus to fulfil a new mission in a post-COVID-19 era.
His Majesty went on to highlight several points, first of which is that APEC needs to restore market confidence to promote early recovery and revitalise trade and investment. APEC needs to advocate a pro-business climate by pursuing structural reforms, strengthening trade facilitation and economic integration as well as progressing work on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Secondly, the empowerment of APEC’s people, especially youth and women, as well as businesses, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), has to be prioritised to ensure that no one is left behind. This includes promoting equitable access to economic opportunities and resources to enable them to benefit from new technologies and growth prospects.
Lastly, Brunei welcomes efforts to strengthen APEC’s economic and technical cooperation agenda which should promote more capacity building, sharing of best practices especially in digitalisation and human resource development.
The meeting carried the theme, ‘Optimising Human Potential Towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot, Prioritise, Progress’.
His Majesty also wished Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern much success for New Zealand’s APEC Chairmanship next year, and said together, APEC will be able to face the challenges and seize opportunities ahead, towards achieving its vision of an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Malaysia as the APEC Chairman for 2020 Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin in his opening remarks recognised that APEC has provided the framework for its economies to implement economic ideas based on consensus, to further raise the prosperity of people in the region.
As APEC economies work together to mitigate impacts of COVID-19, the relevance of APEC is more pronounced as it pursues regional solutions to ensure that the distribution of vaccines is affordable, accessible and equitable.
At the AELM, the leaders were presented with a report on the Global Economic Outlook by Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva, who stated that the global economic growth has contracted by 4.4 per cent from last year, and thereby urged economies to steer the course towards robust economic recovery through investments in people, health, education and social protection.
The IMF recommended enhancing infrastructure as well as revitalising and modernising trade to help lift the growth trajectory to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The leaders touched on post-COVID-19 measures, the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration.
The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 fosters the participation of people, further allowing for a strong market system and multilateralism for open and fair trade and economic growth.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration will promote sustainable and inclusive growth to further build a more resilient region that can benefit the people.
Leaders also highlighted the importance of innovation driven growth, and enhancing connectivity to facilitate the flow of goods, and people. Regional recovery also depends on fair, equitable and safe access to COVID-19 vaccines as well as structural reforms to develop local business ecosystems. APEC must also prioritise the climate change agenda to achieve balance between the digital and green economies.
The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration were adopted at the end of the meeting. The Prime Minister of Malaysia then handed over the Chairmanship of APEC to Jacinda Ardern.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin