Economic experts and officials from APEC member economies are pressing ahead with structural reform efforts in a bid to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery and improve resiliency.
“Advancing structural reform has been an ongoing concern for APEC in its mission to advance economic prosperity. This has improved the business climate and increased economic opportunities,” explained Dr James Ding, Chair of the APEC Economic Committee. “The pandemic has pushed policymakers around the region to further speed up this effort to support the economic recovery and make it easier for people and businesses to get back on their feet.”
The APEC region’s economic growth is now expected to decline by 3.7 percent in 2020, bringing the total output loss to a staggering USD 2.9 trillion. Member economies have been quick to roll out significant and targeted fiscal measures ranging from 1 percent to 20 percent of gross domestic product to address the impact of COVID-19. Despite this unprecedented stimulus in response to economic losses, the crisis persists.
“With more businesses facing the threat of permanent closure, unemployment numbers rising and health risks still high, we need to quickly improve our current policies and regulations, especially those related to healthcare systems, social protection, the ease of doing business and inclusive growth,” Dr Ding added.
Advancing the digital economy to empower businesses and communities in these difficult times has been the focus across the region. In a virtual meeting last week, experts shared how they are facilitating work in the digital economy, including by addressing issues around competition infringement and competition law, and strengthening economic and legal infrastructure and regulatory reform.
“In the past few months, we have experienced the importance of connectivity and now fully appreciate why it is so critical for a successful digital economy. We need to ensure that when we advance the digital economy agenda, we also build capacity, infrastructure and narrow the digital divide,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “This way, we can encourage the inclusive participation of all members of the society in our economy, including those who are vulnerable.”
Members also reviewed what progress has been made toward promoting more open, well-functioning transparent and competitive markets and deepening participation by all segments of society and sustainable social policies.
“This pandemic has presented an opportunity to develop a long-term reform agenda that will improve members’ resiliency towards any emergencies in the future,” Dr Ding concluded.
Under the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform mandate, member economies have been working toward a robust, comprehensive and ambitious agenda to reduce inequality and stimulate growth since 2015. This mandate expires at the end of 2020. Members are currently reviewing the final report of progress and planning for the next structural reform agenda beyond 2020.