Key Takeaways from the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade and Second Senior Officials Meeting

Key Takeaways from the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade and Second Senior Officials Meeting

Member economies from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries convened in Arequipa, Peru, from May 4-18.

Several working groups convened policymakers and, in some cases, private sector representatives to discuss a wide range of issues affecting this grouping, which accounts for 60% of the world’s GDP.

A key theme continues to be how to include the most vulnerable segments of populations. Three areas were discussed in depth:

  • The digital economy: Peru held another “Digital Week”, spotlighting policy enablers such as paperless trading to digitalise customs and other government processes. In this regard, trade ministers in their joint state committed to promoting cross-border recognition of electronic trade-related documents, intensifying efforts to enhance digital literacy and skills, cooperating to facilitate the flow of data, and strengthening consumer and business trust in digital transactions. On AI, trade ministers encouraged continuing to exchange views and contributing to relevant ongoing international discussions on Al as appropriate.
  • Formalisation of the economy: The informal economy accounts for nearly 60% of GDP in Peru, 31% in Mexico, and 20% in Chile. Informal workers are more vulnerable, accumulate fewer skills, and are less productive. Informality therefore reduces economic growth and exacerbates inequality. In support of a Peru-led effort to release an APEC Roadmap to Promote Transition to the Formal and Global Economy, several potential solutions were discussed, such as digitalising government services to reduce regulatory burden, changes to worker classifications to increase labour market flexibility and improve compliance with worker registration, and providing incentives to formalise (e.g., reduced tax rates, access to financing).
  • Women and the economy: Ministers responsible for women and ministers responsible for trade held their first-ever joint meeting. They issued a joint statement calling for continued work in APEC on areas such as supporting women’s integration in regional and global value chains and trade, sharing best practices in the utilisation of disaggregated data, digital inclusion, facilitating the transition of women and women-owned and women-led businesses from the informal to the formal economy, and building the capacity of trade officials and stakeholders to promote women’s economic empowerment through trade.

The APEC calendar next turns to the following events:

  • Tourism Ministerial Meeting (5-9 June).
  • Energy Ministerial Meeting (16 August).
  • Food Security Ministerial Meeting (18 August).
  • High-Level Meeting on Health & the Economy (18 August).
  • High-Level Dialogue on Mining (11 September).
  • Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (13 September).
  • Finance Ministerial Meeting (18-21 October).
  • APEC Economic Leaders (heads of state and government) (15-16 November in Lima).

If you would like to understand more about APEC, please contact Patricia Wu at [email protected], Ryan MacFarlane at [email protected], or Peter Lovelock at [email protected].

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