With several trade agreements moving forward, as evidenced by progress at the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Pacific Alliance, prospects for regional economic integration remain positive for the APEC region, said Robert Logie, Chair of the APEC Economic Committee.
Speaking on the sidelines of the first Senior Officials’ Meetings of APEC 2019, held in Santiago by host economy Chile, Logie explained that, “regional economic integration is likely to continue as long as economies and ordinary people see benefits.”
APEC has helped economies to make tremendous progress in reducing trade restrictions, with average tariffs falling to only 5.3 per cent in 2017. Trade has generally led the region’s GDP growth since APEC was established in 1989, but trade growth has lagged GDP growth since 2012.
Domestic consumption has become an increasingly important driver of growth.
“Because of the tremendous progress that has been made over the past 20 years, further trade integration measures will have a lower impact on regional growth prospects,” Logie explained.
The Economic Committee recommends a strategy beyond reducing tariffs in order to boost regional growth, including policies that promote economic inclusion and grow the middle class.
Other ways to propel economic expansion include strengthening small and medium sized enterprises, including for women-led businesses, and tapping the business potential of the digital economy.
New business models enabled by digitalization call for new approaches to regulation.
Chile is leading a team that is developing a report that will recommend structural reforms for encouraging innovation and developing effective regulatory frameworks for the digital economy.
The committee is also working on a platform that will make it easier and cheaper to resolve cross-border e-commerce disputes involving small businesses.