The chiefs of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Wednesday stressed the importance of modernization and international collaboration at a trade symposium hosted by the University of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Describing the mutually beneficial role that coordinated trade reforms can have in delivering robust, inclusive growth, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat Alan Bollard said that development and implementation challenges require “cooperation and sustained dialogue.”
“How trade policy unfolds in the region and its implications globally could have a significant impact on the direction of growth and employment in the near-term and beyond,” he said.
“We want to make sure that there are good rules for international trade that will translate to continued improvements in living standards for people all around the Asia Pacific.”
“APEC has an opportunity to lead the way towards achieving these goals.”
He cited PNG as an example, saying that the South Pacific nation has doubled their per capita income since joining the APEC, over 25 years ago.
“The people of Papua New Guinea are roughly twice as well off as their parents in economic terms as a result of greater interconnectivity with regional trading partners,” Bollard said.
But despite the success of PNG and the Asia Pacific, Bollard acknowledged that there is still much more that needs to be done in order to ensure that economic growth remains inclusive and reaches all corners of region.
Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said “the Asia-Pacific region is a dynamic example of how trade initiatives being pursued at the regional level can have a significant and positive impact on the multilateral system.”
“Papua New Guinea’s leadership in APEC this year is a clear sign of that international engagement,” he said.
“This is very positive and groupings like APEC can complement the multilateral system and act as a building block for global trade,” he added.