Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii in her capacity as APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Brunei Darussalam member and Executive Director of LVK Group of Companies said ABAC Brunei Darussalam while remaining committed to supporting Thailand following their theme this year, will also support the efforts of the MSMEs and Inclusion Working Group.
Meanwhile, ABAC Brunei Darussalam member and Baiduri Bank Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Brunei Development Pengiran Azaleen bin Pengiran Dato Haji Mustapha said enabling economies to embrace the new normal is to promote speedy and sustained recovery in the APEC economies by identifying key structural reforms to increase APEC economies’ potential growth rate and accelerating economic recovery by assessing the microeconomic, fiscal and monetary measures. “As we also look at sustainability, a key focus is to look at the future of financing businesses in their transition to sustainable business models and enabling digital ecosystems,” he said.
Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi and Pengiran Azaleen made these comments during a meeting themed, ‘Embrace, Engage and Enable’, in Singapore recently.
Meanwhile, ABAC Chair for 2022 and Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries Supant Mongkolsuthree said, “The business community recognises that this is a time of great disruption, but also presents a great opportunity.”
Asia-Pacific business leaders in ABAC also affirmed their determination to continue to work closely together in a complex, intertwined and rapidly changing region.
The ABAC chair added, “We can leverage synergies from engaging collectively, embracing the challenges and enabling our communities, to realise the full potential of our region.”
This was a message that ABAC had underscored during a session with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials, he said. “This approach will take us a long way down the path to creating the open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful region that our leaders foresaw in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which will be implemented through the Aotearoa Plan of Action starting this year.”
Supant Mongkolsuthree also shared that ABAC was honoured by Singapore Minister of Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong opening the ABAC meeting.
Meanwhile, on turning to the council’s priorities, the chair said the pandemic remained a central concern. “COVID-19 is still a reality. But 2022 is our chance to embrace the new normal – by safely re-opening borders through more equitable access to vaccination and more regionally-coherent approaches for travel, along with efforts to smooth out supply chain disruptions. We can also enable greater productivity and growth through boosting structural reforms.”
The chair said future-proofing the region’s trade architecture was also essential. “APEC’s leaders have set the goal of a free trade area (FTA) of the Asia-Pacific. The foundations have been laid – now we need to get building, utilising what we have learnt about resilience, sustainability and inclusion throughout the pandemic.
“We also want to see a stronger, more relevant World Trade Organization (WTO) emerging from the WTO Ministerial Conference this year.”
The chair noted that climate change would be another major focus. “We will be drawing on our Climate Leadership Principles from 2021 to help embrace the transition to a low-carbon, green and circular economy in the APEC region,” he said. “We will also contribute to shaping the implementation plan for a sustainable, digitally enabled and trade-friendly food system under the new APEC Food Security Roadmap.”
The chair said underpinning all of the work would be digital transformation. “We have already held a digital trade symposium and will explore a range of other digital topics this year. Digital technologies can help to turbocharge a green recovery, drive trade expansion and create new opportunities – but we need to create the right enabling environment and infrastructure for that.
“This is particularly critical for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women and other disadvantaged groups,” Supant Mongkolsuthree noted, adding that, “MSMEs, including women-led firms, make up the lion’s share of our business community and employment, but they have been hit hard by the pandemic. If we can build their digital capabilities and options, we can help unlock their potential. That will make a critical contribution to our overall economic recovery.”
The chair also shared that ABAC had welcomed the recent announcement from Thailand’s prime minister of the United States’ hosting of APEC in 2023 and Peru in 2024, noting that this strong leadership continuity was crucial to APEC’s aspirations for a better future for all.
“We call on APEC to facilitate the safe re-opening of borders to accelerate the much-needed economic recovery of the region, particularly for the MSME sector which have been disproportionately impacted by the restrictions on movement of people.
“I look forward to working with my ABAC colleagues and others around the region to show that APEC is open for business, and ready for action this year and in the future,” the chair concluded.