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2018 2nd APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Meeting in Tokyo, Japan

Senior Partner of Alpha Pacific Group, Ms Irina Gorbulina attended the second ABAC 2018 meeting in Tokyo, Japan.

The official media release from ABAC:

Asia-Pacific at the crossroads: choosing prosperity.

“Our region stands at a crossroads,” said David Toua, Chair of the APEC Business Advisory
Council (ABAC), at a meeting of senior Asia-Pacific leaders in Tokyo. “One road takes us
towards open markets, dynamic flows of goods, services, investment and people, and inclusive
growth. The other takes us backwards towards protectionism, exclusion and regional economic
slowdown.”

“We should not hold back progress in the Asia-Pacific”, said Mr Toua.
Mr Toua noted ABAC had prepared a set of detailed recommendations for APEC Ministers
Responsible for Trade, meeting next month in Port Moresby.

“APEC’s strength comes from the two pillars of deep economic integration within the region,
and outward-looking engagement beyond the region. If we want truly inclusive growth for our
communities, including for example for small business, women and those impacted by
technological change, we must continue to reduce barriers to trade and investment, and not
introduce new restrictions.

“While the integrity of the global rules-based WTO trading system, including its dispute
settlement mechanism and economies’ concessions and obligations, must be fully respected, we
are very concerned at the escalation of protectionist rhetoric and action in our region. Smaller
and more vulnerable economies which play important roles in global value and supply chains
must not become collateral damage,” said Mr Toua.

Mr Toua noted that the global rules-based trading system had served as the foundation of
decades of economic prosperity and significant reductions in extreme poverty in the region, and
its integrity needed to be maintained above all.

“We have given a strong message to Trade Ministers about our support for the WTO system and
the value we place on pressing ahead towards a ‘Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific’ as a central
part of our vision for the region post-2020, particularly with the welcome finalisation last month
of one of the ‘pathways’ to FTAAP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific
Partnership. We call on the parties to ratify and implement the agreement as soon as possible.”

Mr Toua observed that APEC is well placed to show ambitious leadership on these issues given
the positive outlook for global GDP and trade, which is forecast to grow by 4.4% this year.
“That said, we must do more both to champion and to broaden access to the opportunities that
come from trade liberalisation. It is clear that the distributional impacts of trade and growth in
individual economies – while primarily a matter for domestic rather than trade policy – must be
addressed. And Governments and business must each play their part in restoring confidence in
the contribution that trade and investment make to improving living standards and creating
jobs,” said Mr Toua.

ABAC’s report recommends important actions including measures to reduce or eliminate nontariff
barriers, expanding services trade and encouraging cross-border investment flows.

“Finally, we have underscored to Trade Ministers that economies must redouble their efforts on
the digital economy. We need effective regulatory policies that will encourage and not inhibit
data and information flows, digital trade and innovation, while also safeguarding consumer
privacy and data security. We must also take great care to ensure that we minimise the digital
divide and help to foster a future-ready workforce – that means investment in infrastructure,
structural reform, education and skills training,” concluded Mr Toua.