Malaysia’s prime minister on Thursday stressed the need for members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to move towards sustainable economic recovery and growth after the coronavirus pandemic.
In his opening speech at the virtual APEC CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, Muhyiddin Yasin laid out three key priorities for its 21 members to rebuild their economies.
The first and most important step, he said, is to reaffirm their commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system.
“This is essential for our businesses, as market stability and predictability are the central pillars which ensure that trade and investment continue to flow, even during times of crisis,” he said.
Bolstering the digital economy and inclusive economic growth, Muhyiddin added, are the other priorities that member countries need to pursue in their post-pandemic recovery drives.
“Innovation and digitalization are fundamental within this context, as these enablers not only facilitate our efforts to reinvigorate economic activities, but also to safeguard the health and well-being of our people,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of strong partnerships between governments and the private sector to help member states successfully overcome the pandemic and mitigate its economic impact.
“While governments can continue to undertake measures that preserve an ecosystem oriented towards trade and investment, it is ultimately the drive, resilience, and the adaptability of the private sector that will enhance the economic prosperity of APEC economies,” he added.
In his keynote speech, China’s President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the country’s commitment to continue opening up its market and create greater demand for other countries.
“I wish to reiterate that China’s commitment to opening up is strong, and that China will open its door still wider to the world,” he said.
“China will continue to advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, to conclude, through negotiation, high-standard free trade agreements with more countries, and to actively engage in bilateral, multilateral and regional mechanisms for trade and investment cooperation.”
Xi pointed out that China’s per capita GDP has topped $10,000 and its middle-income population is now over 400 million.
“It is projected by many international institutions that China’s retail market will reach $6 trillion dollars in size this year. As China’s economy grows, our people naturally want to lead an even better life,” he said.
“This will create more demand for a greater variety of quality products, technologies and services from across the world.”
Supported by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Xi said the Asia-Pacific region must seize opportunities created by economic globalization and regional economic integration to become “forerunners driving global growth.”
The APEC forum, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries, including China and the US, the world’s two biggest economies that account for about 60% of global GDP.
This year’s theme for the event, which will be run until Friday, is “APEC Re-Imagined: Priorities in the Aftermath of COVID-19,” focusing on urgent issues in the region and the wider world in the wake of the pandemic.