ABAC reiterates collaboration, connectivity needed to thrive amid health, economic crises

·3 min read

WITH the global economy reeling from the severe impact of the Covid-19, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Business Advisory Council (Abac) has reiterated in its year-end report to the Apec the need for collaboration and connectivity to respond to the crisis while rebuilding and revitalizing the economy.

With the four focus areas of integration, innovation, inclusion, and sustainability as the foundation of all its initiatives, Abac will finalize a “Post-2020 Vision” for the region that would introduce a new set of goals for “building back better” amid the health crisis.

“The pandemic has underscored the value of having a collective ‘vision’ for the coming years, and has also given us some valuable lessons on the importance of including the concepts of resilience and cooperation in setting these goals,” the Abac report, which was signed by 59 Abac members from various parts of the world, said.

The goal is to make Apec a resilient, sustainable, and seamless region where it is easy to work, live and do business in as any other region, it noted.

“The responsibility to be decisive, to take immediate steps to recover and rebuild our region, also offers enormous opportunity to act with forward thinking purpose, to create a better version of our region and ensure we are prepared for the future shocks which we know will inevitably come,” the report stated.

Abac member and Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer Sabin Aboitiz expressed his full support to the vision and said that Abac Philippines will continue to work on programs addressing key issues in the country such as services sector competitiveness, infrastructure and finance infrastructure, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) development and digital innovation.

“The Aboitiz Group believes in the importance of collaboration, especially in this time of uncertainty. We are a key player in Asia-Pacific and our regional footprint will help push the council’s initiatives to achieve greater goals,” said Aboitiz, who was officially announced as a member in June.

Focus areas

As part of its recommendation, Abac believes there is a need to develop and realize a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific which would pave the way for open, secure and stable supply chains. It also highlighted its support to the World Trade Organization’s multilateral rules-based trading system.

While the digital economy grew exponentially, Abac called on Apec leaders to help bridge the digital divide along geographic and socio-economic lines by making digital infrastructure, including broadband Internet, accessible to underdeveloped areas and regulatory and technical environments open and non-discriminatory across Apec.

To rebuild economies after the pandemic, Abac said promoting the welfare of MSME, women, indigenous communities and youth should be part of the priorities as well as this will enhance Apec’s collective resilience.

In the area of sustainability, Abac pushed to strengthen international cooperation for climate change mitigation and adaptation with a sense of urgency and transition to a low-carbon economy through the use of innovative technologies and renewable energy. (PR)