Malaysia’s hosting of the APEC 2020 Summit is a resounding success amidst the raging pandemic and organising the first ever high profile virtual event comprising 21 leaders from various regional countries. We conclude with a number of significant achievement, the signing of RCEP is a major milestone for the region and now the agreement by APEC nations to adopt the Putrajaya Vision 2040.
At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) chaired by The Right Honourable Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin, Prime Minister of Malaysia, all 21 nations agreed to adopt the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 which is set to be build on the Bogor Goals, which was launched in 1994 and will reach maturity this year. Malaysia is the lead penholder for this Vision, which serves as the primary guiding document for the work in APEC, for the next two decades. This strategic document was a result of Malaysia’s close collaboration with all APEC Economies.
The core fundamental of PV2040 is its aspiration for an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all its people and future generations. It identifies three key economic drivers to achieve this aspiration, namely Trade and Investment; Innovation and Digitalisation; as well as Strong, Balanced, Secure, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.
In addition, the Leaders also adopted a consensus Declaration, a document that has remained elusive in the past two years. The Prime Minister noted that Senior Officials worked until the eleventh hour to come to an agreement on this Declaration. “This, for me, is a clear demonstration of what we are capable of accomplishing, when we set aside our differences and focus on our shared values”, he said in his speech. In the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, the Leaders highlighted the need to facilitate equitable access to safe, effective and affordable vaccines.
The leaders noted the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment to drive economic recovery, and reaffirmed support for the on-going work at the WTO, including through necessary reforms aimed at improving its functioning.
In order to facilitate for an enabling environment, the development of digital economy as well as inclusive economic policies is essential for a post pandemic regional recovery and growth. During the meeting it was also noted the need to advance human resource development and strengthen economic and technical cooperation in order to ensure that affected workers are afforded appropriate support. Leaders expressed hope that new technologies enable the region to handle resources and waste more sustainably, and in a holistic manner. They also made a commitment to support global efforts to tackle climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters.
In his interventions, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin noted the multi-faceted responses that have been undertaken in the Asia Pacific, in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and navigating the region towards a path of robust and resilient economic recovery. He recognised that APEC has, in its attempt to strike a balance between health priorities and economic needs, introduced stimulus packages, lockdowns and circuit breakers, and more recently, travel bubbles.
APEC Economic Leaders also shared their individual policy responses and intervention measures in addressing the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, and underscored the importance of working collaboratively to reopen economic sectors, return people to jobs and reinstating the region to some level of normalcy.