M'sia Successfully Hosted APEC 2020. Here Are 3 Ways It Will Impact Our Economy

"I hope that women will get the same opportunity to start their own businesses."

Cover image via SME Asia & Hudson Common

On 20 November, Malaysia successfully concluded the first ever fully virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Image via Malay Mail

APEC 2020 is a year-long regional economic forum involving 21 economies, with the goal of creating greater prosperity for the region.

For host economy of APEC 2020, Malaysia, it was a unique experience hosting the forum completely online for the first time, with over 100 virtual meetings held throughout the year involving delegates from all around the world.

Image via APEC 2020

The forum ended on a high note with the adoption of the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM), chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on 20 November.

The end goal is to see inclusive growth in our regional economy, as well as prosperity for all people and future generations

The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 hopes to create an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community. This vision will further advance the Bogor Goals, which were launched in 1994 and reached maturity this year.

Here are the key areas that will help achieve this aspiration:

Trade and Investment
One of the most important things in driving the economy is having a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, and predictable trade and investment environment. Besides that, APEC member economies recognise the importance of e-commerce in supporting COVID-19 recovery.

Innovation and Digitalisation
Another way to empower inclusive economic participation is to strengthen digital infrastructure and accelerate digital transformation. When we foster an environment for the digital economy, that will open opportunities for existing businesses and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to grow.

Strong, Balanced, Secure, Sustainable, and Inclusive Growth
To foster inclusive economic growth, it requires economic and technical cooperation, as well as structural reforms that drive innovation, productivity, and sustainability. That's why it's important for member economies to continue working together to achieve these goals.

So what does that mean for our economy? Here are three exciting things we can look forward to post-APEC 2020:

Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

1. More open trade and investment - "I would like to be able to expand my business to bigger international markets"

Photo used for illustration purposes only.

Image via South China Morning Post

"Earlier this year, I was finally planning to take my business beyond Malaysia into some of our neighbouring countries. But then, my business got hit badly, and with the movement restrictions and closed borders, it was a really tough time."

"Nevertheless, hearing how APEC is helping small businessmen like me find opportunities by creating a more open trade and investment environment, I'm hopeful that I can still expand my business into bigger international markets in the near future. With more partnerships and direct access to international trade, I'm sure it will help to boost our economy too!"

- Chan Chee Keong, 37, businessman.

2. A better environment for the digital economy - "I want to see more companies embrace the idea of running their businesses online"

Photo used for illustration purposes only.

Image via Unsplash

"If there's one thing certain, it's that digital is the way forward. Even up until now, there are still many companies that are struggling to adapt to the digital world, but they need to learn to innovate, even if that means completely changing their business structure and the way they do things."

"We can no longer run our companies the way we used to - businesses need to shift out of that 'brick-and-mortar' concept and embrace the digital economy. With the right digital infrastructure in place, I think we can definitely foster an online environment for more micro and small businesses to take off."

- Mustapha Mansor, 45, economics and finance lecturer.

3. Inclusive growth and sustainability - "I hope that one day women will get the same opportunity to start and run their own businesses"

Photo used for illustration purposes only.

Image via WMA Store

"One of the things highlighted by APEC is that MSMEs, women, and those with untapped economic potential were the most affected by COVID-19. What we need is for more inclusive policies to help these groups achieve economic growth, especially women in the workforce."

"Personally, as an entrepreneur, I want to see more women-owned and women-led businesses participating in global value chains. I also want to see more women being hired to higher-wage, high-growth sectors. With the implementation of the La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth, I believe that it can be a reality."

- Audrey Tan, 35, entrepreneur.

In conclusion, the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 is the right step forward for greater economic growth in the region

Image via APEC 2020
Image via APEC 2020
Image via APEC 2020

In addition to the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, the leaders of 21 member economies also adopted the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, a document that demonstrates what APEC member economies are capable of accomplishing by working together for the greater good.

APEC 2021 is set to be hosted by New Zealand. The annual regional forum will also be held online, following Malaysia's success at hosting the first fully virtual APEC forum this year.

To find out more about APEC 2020 and the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, make sure to head over to their website or social media pages

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