Free trade, pandemic to head meeting agenda
Free trade and pandemic issues make up the bulk of recommendations submitted to the trade ministers' meeting held as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.
The meeting hosted by the Commerce Ministry in Bangkok is scheduled to take place from May 19-22.
"Eight recommendations aimed at strengthening economic integration and businesses of all sizes will be presented to Apec ministers responsible for the trade meeting," said Poj Aramwattananont, chairman of the Apec CEO Summit and a member of the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) Thailand.
Abac discussed the recommendations during its four-day meeting held late last month in Vancouver, Canada.
Among the recommendations are issues pertaining to the long-delayed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), preparations for future pandemic shocks, reopening borders for safe and seamless travel, and support for a rules-based multilateral trading system.
The three topics considered the most important are the FTAAP, food security and digitalisation, he said.
"The critical challenges we are facing remind us of the importance of energy and food security," said Mr Poj.
"It is imperative to make rapid progress towards achieving carbon neutrality and sustainable, productive and undisturbed food supplies, especially in a time of rising energy and food prices."
Abac chairman Supant Mongkol- suthree said Apec economies are committed to moving forward in an era where Covid-19 is deemed endemic, working to ensure a more inclusive, balanced and sustainable future for Asia-Pacific.
Apec leaders meet later this year in Thailand. Their decisions are crucial for the Asia-Pacific economy as there are 21 countries with a combined population of 4.3 billion under the Apec grouping, said Mr Supant.
Apec economies account for 59% of the world's GDP, while trade value between Thailand and Apec members makes up 69.8% of the country's total international trade value.
Abac plans to have its next meeting from July 26-29 in Vietnam.