Moving towards economic recovery, resilience

Danial Norjidi

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii and Baiduri Bank Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Business Development Pengiran Azaleen bin Pengiran Dato Haji Mustapha, as members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Brunei Darussalam, presented the ABAC Report to Leaders for 2020 to Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah yesterday.

The report themed ‘Integration, Innovation, Inclusion: Moving Towards Economic Recovery and Resilience’ highlights the work undertaken by ABAC throughout the year and its recommendations against the backdrop of 2020, a pivotal moment in history given the unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release, ABAC believes that the region must respond boldly as the world faces the greatest health and economic crises of the last hundred years. Adding to the difficulty are the obstacles of a world that is riskier, less stable and more divided than in decades.

“Our greatest strength will be collaboration and cooperation – the hallmark of APEC for 30 years and the collective efforts towards deeper regional economic integration have helped to lift millions out of poverty and improved the lives of many millions more. Thus ABAC stands firm that continuing to work closely together will be key to APEC’s future prosperity, stability and wellbeing.”

The comprehensive ABAC 2020 report looks to the future and to the formidable task of economic rebuilding and revitalisation, drawing on the lessons of the pandemic in relation to ABAC’s priorities for 2020 of ‘Integration’, ‘Innovation’ as well as ‘Inclusion and Sustainability’.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah receives the ABAC Report to Leaders for 2020 from Baiduri Bank Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Business Development Pengiran Azaleen bin Pengiran Dato Haji Mustapha. PHOTO: ABAC BRUNEI

In line with this the report contains a number of key highlights. For ‘Integration’, ABAC urges APEC Economic Leaders to prioritise pro-trade and pro-investment policies, including enhancing open, secure and stable supply chains. The council noted that the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signals a very strong commitment by economic leaders toward a potential Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

For ‘Innovation’, ABAC calls on leaders to ensure that digital infrastructure, including broadband, is accessible even in underdeveloped areas; and that the regulatory and technological environment is open, non-discriminatory and coherent across APEC to enable innovation, interoperability and more rapid digitalisation for all.

For ‘Inclusion and Sustainability’, ABAC said, “As we rebuild our economies post-pandemic, we must address issues of more equitable sharing of the opportunities in and benefits of trade and regional prosperity, including by ensuring that micro, small and medium enterprises, women, indigenous communities and youth are not left behind.”

“How we respond to the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, collectively and individually, will have a far-reaching impact on the world for generations to come,” continued ABAC, noting that 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.

ABAC highlighted that there is the possibility to now deliver a more peaceful and prosperous region, as envisaged when APEC was created, and added that combatting COVID-19 will require working collaboratively to re-open travel through risk-based border management and revive our economies.

“ABAC applauds the Brunei government’s decisive and collective action in tackling COVID-19 pandemic since the outbreak through swift policy actions and initiatives. Today, Brunei is among the few economies in APEC and in the world that has continuously been able to contain the pandemic and speedily resuscitate
the economy.”

“We are pleased to report that ABAC Brunei has co-led and facilitated the ‘Digitisation of Micro and Small Enterprises’ through a Global Pilot initially within BIMP-EAGA (the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area), launching the research programme in Brunei in 2020 and aimed at attaining insights to enabling effective digital solutions to resolve the issues of commercial resiliency for micro and small enterprises,” added ABAC.