Current global economic headwinds are providing impetus for the introduction of next generation policy solutions in the Asia-Pacific to stimulate economic opportunities and further advance equal access to the formal economy.

Representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council fleshed out recommendations during a meeting that just concluded in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The group will present them to Trade Ministers from the 21 APEC member economies when they convene on 17-18 May in Arequipa, Peru to power growth and higher living standards.

Papua New Guinea’s Finance Minister James Marapae, helped to set the tone for the proceedings by detailing the approach Papua New Guinea is taking to deal with current global challenges.

“Like any commodity exporting economy, Papua New Guinea is being tested by the fall in energy prices and slowdowns in our major trading partners,” said Minister Marape.

“But we have been proactive with our fiscal management and are focused on diversifying our economic base,” he added. “This means that we are empowering our economy during the current period and we will be ready for the next economic downturn.”

Marape explained that the progress in APEC to bring the region’s diverse economies closer together and build capacity for increased trade and investment is welcome news for businesses that underpin growth and people’s livelihoods.

“We are strengthening downstream processing in key sectors such as petrochemicals and in food processing and taking our economic sectors into the next generation,” Marape noted.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel and gradually we are seeing the rise in the price of our key exports in oil and eventually gas, in gold and copper and in agricultural products,” he continued. “We will emerge from current pressures even stronger than when they begun a few years ago.”

Particular emphasis across APEC economies is on reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium enterprise participation in supply chains as new arrangements for boosting goods and services trade take shape in the region.

Private sector recommendations on the table include measures to improve access to financing, ease administrative bottlenecks to starting and growing a business, and widen access to digital networks and e-commerce channels.

Actions to open up cross-border scholarships, internships and professional training opportunities are also under consideration. The aim is to ensure that labor forces are able to meet the changing needs of businesses and modernizing economies.

“Our focus is centered on facilitating the adoption of policies that make it easier and faster to do business in the region,” said Juan Raffo, 2016 Chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council.

“When more people are afforded a stake in trade and development, it can do wonders for the future of economies and is what collaboration between the public-private sectors must work further to achieve,” he concluded.


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