APEC is set to put digitally-driven growth and employment opportunities within greater reach across the Asia-Pacific in 2018, boosted by APEC member economies’ capacity to adapt to trade and economic policy disruptions demonstrated over the past year.
Officials, speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the APEC Study Center for Singapore, previewed measures to be taken forward during Papua New Guinea’s APEC chairmanship to promote digital development that equips workers and businesses in all parts of the region to thrive.
It came on the heels of a strategic planning meeting of APEC Senior Officials in Port Moresby that confirmed the priorities for policy collaboration between APEC economies in 2018.
“We are going to focus on growth, connectivity and the changing needs of our labor forces and employers in the digital environment,” explained Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, 2018 Chair of APEC Senior Officials (VIDEO: Ambassador Pomaleu on APEC’s 2018 policy priorities). “We recognize innovative technologies can act as future catalysts for growth in APEC and provide the means for more people to share in the benefits.”
“Improving infrastructure, skills, open markets and high quality regulatory regimes in the region will be key to fully harnessing the benefits of digital development and are issues we want to address next year,” Ambassador Pomaleu continued. “If APEC as a whole does its best to meet these challenges, there are real opportunities that could be gained by all of us.”
APEC members will seek to facilitate industry innovation and growth by promoting clear governance arrangements and interconnectivity in the digital marketplace. This includes confronting rising concerns about the rules of trade, cybersecurity, hacking and ownership and privacy of data as it moves across borders in larger volumes with the expansion of e-commerce.
Parallel efforts in APEC will center on broadening participation in digital trade and supply chains in high growth sectors like agriculture, tourism and the sharing economy as middle class demand in the region rises. Particular attention will be on access and training to open the digital space for small firms, women, youth and disadvantaged people in urban and rural communities.
“More and more, we are focused on the possibilities of digital search, marketing, branding, intellectual property, payment and, increasingly, services delivery,” said Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “We see room for local entrepreneurs and micro enterprises to use these tools to tap into drivers of growth in quite revolutionary ways.”
“We have a long way to go to realize the region’s digital potential given the complexities involved but the incentives for action are high,” Dr Bollard concluded. “The flexibility of APEC’s voluntary, non-binding approach to policy innovation that has kept economic integration and free trade moving in this age of disruption puts us in a good position to achieve new breakthroughs.”
Implementation work will proceed when trade and sectorial officials convene for a cluster of policy development meetings in Port Moresby beginning on 24 February 2018 and culminating with the First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting to decide the next steps.
ADB Project to Improve Fiscal Management, Develop Capital Markets in Armenia
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $40 million-equivalent policy-based loan attached to reforms that help strengthen fiscal sustainability and develop the financial and capital markets in Armenia. These are crucial enablers of private sector development.
Armenia’s economic growth over the last few years has been hampered by low levels of investment, both foreign and domestic, given the high costs of local currency finance and related constraints in the financial system. Efficiency-promoting upgrades in public investment and fiscal management are also needed to ensure sustained improvements in fiscal outlook and sovereign risk pricing.
“Financial markets remain nascent in Armenia, which limits the development of the country’s private sector and the banking industry,” said ADB Senior Financial Sector Economist for Central and West Asia Mr. João Farinha Fernandes. “This also constrains public finance and fiscal management, while exposing the economy to financial stability risks. ADB’s assistance is intended to help ensure that Armenia develops a conducive fiscal and financial intermediation environment where private sector players, both big and small, can contribute to growth and development.”
ADB approved a $50 million policy-based loan in November 2018 as part of an ongoing programmatic engagement on financial reforms to strengthen public debt and fiscal risk management, and to develop financial markets in Armenia.
The Second Public Efficiency and Financial Markets Program continues these reforms by strengthening the effectiveness of the government’s fiscal risk management function; promoting the development of fiscally responsible public–private partnerships; and enhancing market transparency and predictability in public debt management. The program will also improve the infrastructure of the government securities market and money market infrastructure, enhancing the sustainability and resilience of Armenia’s finance sector.
Bangladesh Can Boost its Exports with Better Logistics
To meet the needs of its growing economy and to boost export growth, Bangladesh needs to improve its transport and logistics systems, says a new World Bank report launched today.
The report Moving Forward: Connectivity and Logistics to Sustain Bangladesh’s Success, finds that by making logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly boost export growth, maintain its position as a leading ready-made-garments and textile producer, and create more jobs. The report notes that congestion on roads and in seaports, high logistics costs, inadequate infrastructure, distorted logistics service markets, and fragmented governance hamper manufacturing and freight, further eroding Bangladesh’s competitive edge and putting its robust growth path at risk.
“Bangladesh’s congested transportation and often unsophisticated logistics systems impose high costs to the economy,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “By making its logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly optimize its connectivity, business environment, and competitiveness, putting the country on the right path to become a dynamic upper-middle-income country.”
Efficient logistics, the report argues, has become one of the main drivers for global trade competitiveness and export growth and diversification. For Bangladesh, improving its logistics performance provides an opportunity to increase its world market share in garments and textiles, which account for 84 percent of its total exports, expand into new markets, and diversify its manufacturing and agriculture into high-value products.
The report notes that improving Bangladesh’s logistics requires a system-wide approach based on greater coordination among all public institutions involved in logistics and with the private sector, increasing the effective capacity of core infrastructure, and removing distortions in logistics service markets to reduce costs and improve quality. At a regional level, harmonizing its logistics systems and aligning its customs with that of its neighbors could turn Bangladesh into an important node for regional freight flows and further boost its trade.
“There’s no doubt that reforms and investments for better transport and logistics will yield Bangladesh substantial economic benefits and strengthen its competitive advantage,” said Matías Herrera Dappe, Senior Economist at the World Bank and author of the report. “But the solution to logistics is not just to invest more but to invest better, by focusing on the service gap, and creating the incentives for high quality and competitive logistics services.”
New development models to drive growth and employment for youth in Africa
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched the Global Environment Outlook-6 (GEO-6) for Youth in Africa report on the margins of the 17th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).
The report analyses the economic opportunities that Africa’s natural resources can provide for job creation and sustainable development. It also provides a package of solutions to tackle Africa’s youth unemployment through the Green Economy.
“This Publication is anchored substantively in the UNEP’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) Regional Assessment for Africa,” said Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa. “This Assessment has a very clear message; Africa has an opportunity to use its large young population to drive its growth.”
Africa’s youth remains the most hit by unemployment. One-third of Africa’s 420 million youth aged 15 to 35 are unemployed. Of these, 35 per cent are vulnerably employed and 19 per cent are inactive. These numbers will increase dramatically unless urgent actions are not taken.
The report recommends that Africa’s natural capital should be managed sustainably to enhance the livelihoods of African young population, create more sustainable and decent jobs as well as increase social and economic cohesion.
“The Green Economy calls for a paradigm shift in the way that we produce and consume. If young people are the centre of such a shift, they will secure a sustainable future replete with sustainable livelihoods,” said Professor Lee White, Minister for Environment, Forest and Oceans of Gabon and outgoing President of AMCEN. “The Global Environment Outlook-6 for Youth, Africa: A Wealth of Green Opportunities digs deep into that future and shows young people how they can secure their livelihoods through green jobs.”
Natural resources remain a key source of employment in Africa. Eight out of ten people’s employment on the continent are supported by natural resources. Nearly six million Africans are employed in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, ten million people work in the wildlife sector and an average of 54 per cent in the agricultural sector.
The report includes case studies and success stories on African youth who have invested in natural resources to develop entrepreneurship, improve their knowledge and skills as well as create jobs and sustain their livelihoods.
The report calls on governments to encourage youth to invest in green economy through creating platforms for innovation in sustainable development. While confirming the potential of youth in leading green growth in Africa, the report strongly establishes the correlation between green economy and decent jobs.
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