APEC 2017: Crucial moments to push region into a new era hinh anh 1Stewart Beck, President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (Source: theglobeandmail.com)

Ottawa (VNA)
- As a leading economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC plays an increasingly important role in shaping and driving international trade system. The organisation is facing many opportunities and challenges at the same time.

Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent in Canada talked with Stewart Beck, President and CEO of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, who is also a member of the Canadian APEC delegation.
As a President of an organisation specialising in research on Asia Pacific, what is your view on the current opportunities and challenges facing APEC?
In a time of growing protectionism in other parts of the world, it is imperative that APEC economies remain committed to open and inclusive trade. Of course, as with any large, international economic bloc, there are challenges.

We are noticing income gaps widening within APEC countries, and issues of inclusion surrounding women, youth, seniors and indigenous peoples are starting to play a prevalent part in discussions surrounding trade and investment.

We are also monitoring emerging issues that are a result of our increasingly digital world.

While the potential socio-economic levelling effect of the Internet is profound, we are seeing a widening connectivity gap in the APEC region. Now, more than ever, a community with decreased connectivity – broadband, cable, Internet, etc. – is a community with decreased opportunities. 

Among the points you have just mentioned, which ones are the biggest opportunity and challenge, and why?
This is an opportunity for Canada to show leadership in many sectors, including our highly-skilled services, our leading innovation and technology, fintech and clean tech – not to mention our international work in the development of micro, small, medium enterprises through our APEC-Canada Growing Business Partnership.

Furthermore, the Government of Canada’s progressive trade policy is definitely one that is admired in the region, especially in light of the recent and successful passing of the Canada-EU free trade deal (CETA).

APEC’s membership is extremely diverse, and yet it boasts very strong inter-economy linkages. Meetings that will take place next week in Da Nang, from the private sector, to the ministerial meetings, all the way up to the leader summits, will provide crucial moments for the region to gather and clearly identify the needed steps to take to push the region into a new era.

With the emerging geo-economic and geo-political trends in the region and in the world, how do you evaluate the actual role of APEC in the future, as well as on the prospect of development of its members?
Strong convening power and multi-level engagement are among the biggest strengths of APEC. In Vietnam this week, we will be able to better evaluate the role of APEC in the coming years, especially as we approach 2020, which is the self-imposed deadline for the APEC 2020 Vision.

As we look toward the future for this critical and dynamic region, at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada we will continue to share our applied research capabilities and our value-added analysis and advice with our APEC partners and stakeholders, in Vietnam and beyond.-VNA