APEC Needs to Future-Proof the Region from Crises


APEC is forging ahead on its effort to advance regional economic integration by future-proofing regional travel and boosting sustainability goals in a bid to dampen the impact of continued economic pressure coming from lingering supply chain disruptions, inflation and food insecurity.

Addressing the region’s business leaders at the APEC Business Advisory Council meeting held in Ha Long Bay in Viet Nam, Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Thailand and 2022 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials, emphasized member economies’ commitment to facilitating trade and investment in the region and addressing the economic crisis.

“On our priority to strengthen regional economic integration, we made good progress in moving forward the conversation on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific or FTAAP,” Thani added. 

“We took on board the private sector’s recommendations and agreed to develop a multi-year workplan, on which we look forward to further collaborating with APEC business leaders to advance the FTAAP agenda,” Thani further explained. The workplan will focus on digitalization, inclusive growth, sustainability, trade and investment, as well as trade response to the pandemic.

Reconnecting the region remains high on the agenda as tourism and travel is a key economic driver for recovery. Thailand, the host of APEC 2022, drives APEC’s work on safe passage this year. 

“Although the world is heading towards more open border policies, with travel restrictive measures like quarantine, vaccination and testing requirements subsiding, many restrictions still remain,” Thani added.

“Member economies agreed on a number of initiatives that focus on the interoperability of vaccination certificates and a one-stop information platform for travelers,” he continued. “We also discussed a number of other initiatives including on exploring health technologies, accelerating travel of air and maritime crews and enhancing business mobility.”

Trade ministers welcomed the Voluntary Principles for the Interoperability of Vaccination Certificates in the APEC Region, agreed upon during their meeting in Bangkok on 21 to 22 May, which demonstrates members’ readiness to harmonize the different vaccination certificates system. 

“We will work to ensure that cross-border travel within APEC remains resilient and crisis-proof, especially as we explore how APEC can take advantage of the vast digital solutions and drives structural changes to improve regional travel for a more resilient and a more responsive future,” Thani explained.

Member economies are also considering the Bangkok Goals for the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy, which will outline the measures to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives, including carbon neutrality and net zero greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable trade and investment, environmental conservation and resource efficiency towards zero waste.

“The Bangkok Goals will include recommendations and identify available enablers that will help accelerate our effort to achieve these objectives,” Thani added.

“The recommendations and inputs provided by the region’s business community are crucial for ensuring that APEC’s work is in line with the challenges on the ground,” Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director added. 

“In addressing persistent economic pressure and navigating a post-pandemic world, we need to look at communiques differently and focus on outcomes that promote economic developments, and at the same time recognize the tensions and differences between member economies,” Sta Maria concluded. “We should carry through lessons we learned in the pandemic to make lives easier for people going forward.”

For further details, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]

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Podcast: A conversation with the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada


In May 2022 APEC Executive Director Rebecca Sta Maria was in Canada for the APEC Business Advisory Council. While there, she visited the Asia-Pacific Foundation (APF) of Canada and guested in the first episode of their Asia Pacific Conversation podcast series. She sat down with host Jeff Nankivell, President & CEO of APF Canada, to discuss the opportunities and challenges the APEC region represents for Canada and what Canadians can gain from active engagement and participation in the region. On the occasion of Canada Day, we are republishing the podcast here.



First published by the APF Canada on 10 May 2022

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APEC Bonds will Prevail in Crisis

ED Bangkok May 2020a

The establishment of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) saw the region experience a period of enthusiasm for multilateralism and economic partnerships among governments with different, even contrasting, political and ideological shades. For three decades, ultimately too short a period, it was a given that free trade and economic cooperation would lead to growth, prosperity and improved living conditions for billions of people.

Thailand had a key role in ushering in this period as a founding member of both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the APEC forum.

If ASEAN is mainly determined by the cultural and geographic ties of its nations, APEC brings together an unlikely group of 21 economies from around the Pacific, ranging from small, to middle-income, to the biggest economies on earth—Japan, China and the United States. This means the forum can take a uniquely pluralistic view in matters that affect the economic growth of the region.

Each year one member voluntarily hosts the hundreds of workshops, dialogues, and meetings of officials, from the working group to ministerial and, of course, leader level. Thailand has volunteered thrice: in 1992, just three years after APEC was founded; in 2003; and this year—which might just be its most significant host year yet.

This will also probably be one of the most difficult years to host APEC for any member. It challenges the 30-odd years of multilateral optimism. While there are many benefits to the rise of globalism during this period, we also know that the economic growth remains unequally distributed. Furthermore, we now know with scientific certainty that environmental degradation was one of the costs of this growth, bringing about significant changes to the climate, endangering many communities around the region, especially those in the geographic and economic fringes.

Over the course of many challenging events, including two major financial crises, a disruptive trade war between the two biggest economies, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, we have heard many point out the cracks in the old comfortable order. But multilateral cooperation endured. COVID-19, for example, had many APEC officials express concern that protectionism and vaccine nationalism will prevail. But the collegial bonds cultivated among APEC economies over the decades proved strong, and ministers and leaders came together (albeit virtually) to pledge, among other things, support for facilitating the movement of vaccines across borders and low tariffs for essential medical goods.

Today, as we are just beginning to recover from the economic crisis and pandemic, the bonds between APEC economies are being tested yet again, by the war in Ukraine. There is something different about this crisis—it has surfaced ideological differences among a few economies, manifested in acts of protest spilling over to even economic meetings such as APEC. 

The APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting held late last month in Bangkok was a milestone event. It was the first meeting of ministers held in person in three years, during a time when economies are struggling to reopen while bracing for disrupted supply chains, slower growth, and concerns over possible food shortages. It’s no surprise that many outside observers focused on the disagreements among some members over the war.

For two days, the trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific discussed a range of important issues such as APEC’s support for the rules-based multilateral trading system as the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference nears; the eventual realization a Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific; and climate change and sustainable development, with its impact on trade and inclusive economic growth. The ministers also focused on initiatives to resume travel safely. 

Members agreed on nearly everything on the agenda. This will go on to positively influence economies’ trade and domestic policies to become more sustainable and inclusive. However, as expected, they did not reach consensus. In a statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawit, who chaired the meeting, gave an assessment of the prevailing views of all APEC member economies, including those on both sides of the Ukraine issue, and the way forward for the forum to advance growth. It shows how Thailand will expertly host the rest of APEC 2022—by listening intently to the views of APEC’s diverse membership and emphasizing what unites them.

The world is dividing, and there are few avenues where members can come together to engage in genuine dialogue. Views will differ around the table, but APEC’s efforts, under Thailand’s leadership, will continue, and we will be seeing each other again in the Land of Smiles in the coming months as we work to open, balance, and connect the region.


Dr Rebecca Sta Maria is the executive director of the APEC Secretariat. This article was first published in the Bangkok Post.

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Deepening Economic Integration and Equipping Business for Dynamic, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth are Key to Economic Recovery, say Business Leaders

ABAC 2_Vancouver Canada_2022

Asia-Pacific business leaders in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), meeting this week in Vancouver, affirmed their determination to continue to work closely together to respond to the challenge of sustaining the region’s growth trajectory in the face of an increasingly complex, interconnected and rapidly changing global environment.

ABAC Chair for 2022, Supant Mongkolsuthree, said that a series of grave challenges arising from the lingering effects of the pandemic and recent events that have caused disruptions to the global markets and supply chain—triggering inflationary pressures and threatening food security – have affected the Asia-Pacific region’s ability to achieve sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth.  

“Responding to these challenges demands decisive, deliberate action, both to deepen the economic integration of our region and to better equip our businesses, including the smallest, to achieve dynamic and sustainable growth,” he said. “We will take the opportunity to convey our views on how this can be achieved to APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade who will be meeting next month.”

To deepen economic integration, ABAC has consistently advocated the eventual realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). 

“We welcomed APEC’s initiative for a renewed dialogue on FTAAP,” the Chair said. “We will be proposing to ministers that APEC launch five multi-year joint work programs to develop tangible outcomes on identified business priorities including digitalization, inclusion, sustainability, trade and investment and trade response to the pandemic.”

“We also want to see a stronger, more relevant World Trade Organization (WTO) and we will call on APEC Ministers to work together to shape a 12th Ministerial Conference outcome that enables a strong, credible and relevant WTO, that provides a secure foundation for the rules-based multilateral trading system, responds effectively to the pandemic, fosters a robust return to growth, and reflects evolving business needs and models.”

“ABAC’s priorities have been and will continue to be focused on creating a more level playing field for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. 

“It is also critical that MSMEs develop a long-term approach to embracing digitalization to enhance resilience and promote innovation and agility in the face of uncertain market demands and business environments.” 

The Chair also said that ABAC supports the global agenda of sustainability, emphasizing “we must build a Net Zero Economy and promote green recovery pathways, including developing innovative tools for the transition to a low-carbon economy, drawing on our Climate Leadership Principles.  We should also foster a sustainable food system that ensures food security and safety through the use of technologies and by reducing market distortions.”

A cybersecurity symposium held on the margins of the meeting provided insights on how to make APEC a cybersecurity leader while closing the cybersecurity skills gap. It looked at establishing platforms and opportunities for cooperation on cybersecurity across the region.

The Chair thanked ABAC Canada for hosting the meeting which demonstrates ABAC’s determination to enable the resumption of business and cross-border travel and in learning to live with COVID-19 judging by the large number of on-site attendees of ABAC members. 

The Honorable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation of British Columbia delivered the keynote address during the opening session of the meeting.

For further information please contact: 
Mr. Areepong Boocha-oom, ABAC Executive Director 2022, +668 1988 9588 at [email protected]
Mr. Antonio Basilio, ABAC Secretariat, + 63 917 849 3351 at [email protected]

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Thailand Contributes to Further Regional Research and Analysis

Economic research and analysis

Thailand has contributed THB1,550,000 or around USD46,000 in funding to strengthen APEC’s research and analysis arm, the APEC Policy Support Unit, in delivering objective and high-quality research, analytical and policy support capabilities to member economies.

The contribution was confirmed by an official letter from Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Thailand’s APEC Senior Official, and received by Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit, earlier this year.

“Thailand commends the role of the Policy Support Unit that supports APEC 2022 Thailand’s theme of ‘Open. Connect. Balance. and key priorities to deepen economic integration, reconnect the region to restart economic recovery, as well as promote post-COVID-19 economic growth that is inclusive, sustainable and balanced,” said Cherdchai.

Recognizing APEC’s unique position as the premier forum for regional economic cooperation as well as a modern, efficient and effective incubator of ideas, he added that Thailand’s financial contribution will support the operation of the Policy Support Unit to assist APEC member economies in the advancement of the Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the Aotearoa Plan of Action.

The APEC Policy Support Unit, established in 2007 by APEC Ministers, undertakes detailed research on various topics and produces research and policy analysis reports, policy briefs, issues papers as well as provides data, insights and commentary about economic issues within APEC. 

“We seek to engage and complement the work of other international organizations, policy think tanks and research institutes,” said Dr Hew. “By pursuing opportunities for joint research and analysis, we endeavor to provide APEC members with wider resources and eventually help improve officials’ deliberations and decisions in the forum.”

“The contribution from Thailand will help boost APEC’s capability in regional research and analysis,” Dr Hew concluded.

The unit structures its policy research and analysis agenda into three core areas, namely: 1) trade and investment; 2) innovation and digitalization; and 3) strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive growth. These core research areas mirror the three economic drivers that are articulated in the Putrajaya Vision 2040.

The APEC Regional Trends Analysis, the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard and the APEC Economic Policy Report are some of the flagship reports produced by the unit. To view all the reports by the APEC Policy Support Unit, visit this page.

For further details, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]

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Thailand Announces Dates for APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting

2022 SOM Chair during media conference

Thailand, the host of APEC 2022, announced that the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will take place on 18 and 19 November in Bangkok.

The announcement was made after the conclusion of the First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting last week, where members reiterated their commitment to reinvigorate regional economic integration, reconnect the region and reassure sustainability for future growth.

“Entering the third year of the pandemic, economic recovery has become a matter of utmost urgency for all member economies,” said Thailand’s Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Thani Thongphakdi, who is also the 2022 Chair of APEC Senior Officials. 

“We must embrace inclusiveness and sustainability in our growth strategy, balancing between health, economy and the environment,” he added. Thailand aims to bring physical dynamism back to APEC as it is looking to host APEC ministers and leaders physically this year.

A series of gatherings from 14 November will precede the Leaders’ Meeting: The Concluding APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting, as well as the APEC Ministerial Meeting, which is attended by trade ministers and foreign affairs ministers.

Concurrently, the annual APEC CEO Summit will take place during the week.

Next on APEC’s meeting calendar is the Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting which will be held virtually on 16 to 17 March.

Preparation is underway for Thailand to host the Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and the Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in physical format in Bangkok this coming May.

For more information on APEC meetings and events, please visit our events page or the APEC 2022 website.


For further details, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at[email protected]

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The Future of Work is About People, not Tech: Report

AEPR 2021_future of work

The future of work—with advanced technologies and new working arrangements—is here and is changing economic opportunities and employment relationships. However, according to the 2021 APEC Economic Policy Report, certain economic structures, laws and institutions across APEC remain products of the past. 

The report highlighted four megadrivers of the future of work. These are technological change, climate change, globalization and demographic change. It also pointed out how these drivers promote innovation and advance development, although each comes at a cost.  

Unresolved issues such as environmental degradation and climate change resulting from the rise of industrialization, growing inequality and structural unemployment due to globalization, as well as the ageing population, are some of the remaining challenges that policymakers need to address.

On top of this, COVID-19 sent the world into isolation, left policymakers with many lessons to learn, and propelled people and businesses to adapt and accelerate digital technology adoption. Some managed to keep their jobs and businesses afloat but many had to face closure and unemployment, highlighting the need to make people the center of future-of-work policy.

“The future of work is not about technology, but about people,” said Dr James Ding, Chair of the APEC Economic Committee, the group that produced the report alongside the APEC Policy Support Unit. 

“Even as we get excited about the latest technology and advancements in artificial intelligence, discussions about the future of work should still be about the well-being of people and society in an increasingly digitalized economy.”

“There is an urgent need to address the real social and economic impacts that will bring change,” Dr Ding added. “We have to look at ensuring our economic security with structural reform and targeted policies, upskilling and reskilling the workforce, updating the relevant laws and regulations as well as strengthening our cross-border cooperation.”

The report, among others, recommends APEC member economies focus on improving their systems by expanding the scope and coverage of unemployment benefit programs to cover the most vulnerable, as well as include better health coverage in their social protection policies.

Policies that promote skills building are deemed crucial to mitigating the skills gap and strengthening the resilience of the workforce, and this can be supported by building better skills-forecasting systems, upskilling and reskilling workers, making targeted investments in education and promoting lifelong learning to keep up with the changing labor market.

Improving employment protection legislation is another policy lever to effectively react to changing market conditions. The report suggests policymakers upgrade the scope and coverage of employment protection laws by including non-standard employment, such as those who work in the informal sector, workers in temporary contracts and gig-economy workers.

“International cooperation is needed more than ever as we embrace the future of work and APEC needs to continue to be the forum where innovative approaches to addressing the challenges are developed, policies are discussed and consensus for implementation is achieved,” Dr Ding concluded.

Read the APEC Economic Policy Report 2021: Structural Reform and the Future of Work

For further details, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]

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