Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.
Your Majesty, Excellencies – the APEC Economic Leaders.
- I would like to welcome everyone by wishing “Selamat Datang”
to this first-ever fully-virtual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, or AELM. As the Chair of APEC 2020, I am indeed honoured to host all of you, albeit virtually, at this Meeting, which remains the annual pinnacle event for APEC.
- As Member Economies of APEC, all of us have benefitted considerably from this premier regional forum. Our gains have spanned across trade, investment, facilitation, as well as economic and technical cooperation.
- APEC, in my view, is an incubator-cum-enabler; one that provides the right framework for implementing economic ideas on a voluntary, non-binding and consensus basis. Due to this foundational philosophy behind APEC, Member Economies have often pursued new and novel concepts within this platform, even when there was reluctance and hesitation to do the same at other multilateral fora.
- Member Economies have also been swift in embracing the tools offered by APEC in advancing the economic agenda within the region, and subsequently, furthering the prosperity of the people of Asia Pacific.
- Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the way we view trade and economic priorities within APEC. Today, as we work together as a region to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the relevance of APEC has become even more pronounced. As we pursue regional solutions that help us to strike a delicate balance between our health priorities and economic needs, we are reminded not of our divergences, but of our similarities; and of the fundamental fact that, even in calamity, humanity will find a way.
- That said, we have to stand united in combating COVID-19, and it is therefore of utmost importance that people around the world have access to the vaccines and health technologies in an affordable, accessible and equitable basis.
- As a grouping whose economies constitute about 60 per cent of the global GDP, APEC assumes a central role in spearheading post-pandemic economic recovery. We need to trade and invest our way out of the current economic downturn. We must come together and work constructively towards navigating the region along a path of robust, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
8. APEC is now at a critical juncture. In 1994, we, the APEC Member economies, agreed to the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2020.
9. Since the Bogor Goals were first articulated in 1994, total trade between APEC Economies and the rest of the world has increased by more than four-fold. We now represent almost 50 per cent of total world trade. Reflecting the depth of our economic integration, more than two-thirds of the trade by APEC Economies is with other APEC Economies.
10. A similar story emerges on the investment-side, as well. Since the year 2000, capital inflows into APEC Economies have increased by two-thirds and capital outflows have tripled. We now constitute half of the world’s top 10 Foreign Direct Investment, or FDI, recipients.
11. From a regional perspective, the World Bank’s Doing Business database indicates that APEC has made strides towards elimination of non-tariff barriers too, by way of streamlining processes, reducing costs and time, with regard to carrying out trade activities. These regulatory reforms have further enhanced the ease of doing business in APEC.
12. From a domestic perspective, Malaysia’s involvement in APEC has continued to strengthen the growth of our businesses through intra-regional trade expansion, which in turn brings substantial progress to our economy. Through the expansion of trade, Malaysians are able to experience positive spill-over effects in the form of job creation, knowledge transfer and the strategic placement of our Micro, Small and Medium-Sized
Enterprises (MSMEs) in the global value chain.
13. To date, Malaysia’s trade with APEC Member Economies has increased by more than 7-fold in the past decade. In 2019, APEC Economies have collectively contributed 78% of Malaysia’s total trade. Similarly, APEC Economies, as a grouping, were the largest source of FDI into Malaysia, and this represents 91% of Malaysia’s total FDI flows for last year.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
14. Moving forward, allow me to share my thoughts on three key priorities that all the APEC Member Economies could embrace:
15. The first and most important priority is for us to reaffirm our support and commitment for the rules-based multilateral trading system. This is essential for our businesses, as market stability and predictability are the central pillars which ensure that trade and investment continue to flow, even during times of crisis.
16. The second priority is to bolster the digital economy, given the pressing need to generate jobs and return our workers to the employment market. Innovation and digitalisation are fundamental within this context, as these enablers not only facilitate our efforts to reinvigorate economic activities, but also to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people.
17. The third priority is inclusive economic growth. I must stress that economic recovery and subsequently, growth, should ensure that no one is left behind.
18. As the Chair of APEC 2020, Malaysia is proud to carry the theme: “Optimising Human Potential towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity”. This theme serves as a reminder for all of us that everything we do in APEC must eventually contribute towards the prosperity of our people.
19. There is no denying that trade and investment has led to economic growth and greater wealth in the Asia Pacific region. However, there is also a collective concern that not all segments of our societies have benefitted from such wealth. The onus is on us, as Leaders, to bring the distributive effects of trade and investment to all our people.
20. In Malaysia’s view, this can be achieved through Shared Prosperity. Shared Prosperity is about mainstreaming economic development and centre-staging prosperity, to enable all members of our society to participate effectively in economic activities, and benefit from the resulting growth. Shared Prosperity will also underscore APEC’s focus on raising the living standards of all our people.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
21. That concludes my opening remarks. Thank you and I look forward to having a constructive Meeting, today.