28th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting

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, in a titah says that Brunei Darussalam recognises the importance of technology as tools for creating new economic opportunities. On this note, His Majesty in his titah added, APEC cooperation has to harness the power of technology and digitalisation to transform industries, promote innovation, and enhance infrastructures. In the titah during the 28th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, AELM, held virtually from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman, last night, His Majesty commends New Zealand for successfully driving recovery efforts in the Asia Pacific region and acknowledges that under New Zealand's leadership, APEC has showcased collective actions in addressing the impacts of COVID-19.

The Monarch in his titah also extends his best wishes to the Prime Minister of Thailand, as incoming APEC Chair, in working to ensure inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future for the Asia Pacific region. The APEC Meeting which was chaired by Her Excellency The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand as Chairman of APEC for 2021, among other things, focused on recovering from COVID-19 to build prosperity for all citizens and future generations. At the Meeting, His Majesty in his titah notes that the global economy remains fragile and more needs to be done for a more sustainable recovery. Noting that APEC agreed on a common vision last year to be achieved by 2040, Brunei Darussalam welcomes the Aotearoa Plan of Action to guide APEC's future work.

In this regard, His Majesty shared three points. Firstly, APEC needs to revitalise trade and enhance economic activities. Efforts should focus on keeping markets open, strengthen global value chains and ensure free, open and transparent multi-lateral trading system, anchored by the World Trade Organization, WTO. It is necessary for APEC to continue to create a conducive environment for businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, to recover and grow. Secondly, APEC has to ensure the health and socio-economic well-being of its people, especially those severely affected by the pandemic. APEC should therefore advocate policies that ensure their access to quality education; essential public healthcare services; and adequate social assistance. His Majesty states that reforms are also necessary to create quality jobs, inclusive labour markets, and future-ready work force. In this regard, APEC's initiatives can support these efforts in enhancing these areas and pave the way for a new era of human development. Lastly, it is important for APEC to pursue a green and sustainable growth agenda.

Earlier in the Meeting, the Chair of APEC 2021, in her Opening Remarks noted that APEC economies have experienced unique managements of the COVID-19 pandemic towards accelerating economic recovery; keeping businesses afloat as well as ensuring employment for the people; and securing an equitable response. Her Excellency The Right Honourable also called upon the strengthening of youth engagement in the APEC region in ensuring a cooperative and digital future for all.

At the Meeting, the leaders observed a presentation by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, highlighting increased risks to recovery from the pandemic including the divergence in APEC economies fortunes, taking into consideration the differing levels of vaccinations and fiscal space among economies; as well as the rise in inflationary pressures; and the need for economies to be more digitalised and inclusive.

The Leaders also called for APEC's continued support towards a rules-based and open multilateral trading system in delivering inclusive and sustainable recovery for the region, including through the timely entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP. In support of accelerated economic recovery, leaders also welcomed trade facilitation leveraging on digital technologies and innovation, as well as an increased mobility of goods and people. Aside from that, APEC also needs to consider the balance between economic growth and social development when addressing climate change issues, to ensure that benefits are shared by all.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand in her closing remarks, urged for APEC to work harder towards achieving universal access to vaccines as well as to overcome barriers in getting maximum vaccine coverage. APEC could do more to support a safe cross-border movement, as well as improving opportunities and social outcomes for its people. Given the uneven impacts of COVID-19, APEC should align recovery with the long-term goal of achieving sustainable and inclusive economies. At the end of the Meeting, the APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration was adopted and the Aotearoa Plan of Action was endorsed.

Source: Radio Television Brunei