Jakarta (VNA) - Over nearly three decades, cooperation of APEC member economies has brougt benefits to the Asia-Pacific region, and each member economy has contributed to APEC's common goals of building a dynamic and harmonious Asian-Pacific community. Vietnam News Agency correspondents has talked the issue with Desra Percaya, Director General for Asia-Pacific and Africa Affairs under the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Q: APEC member economies are attempting to liberalise and open trade, investment, accelerate regional economic integration, encourage economic and technical cooperation, and promote the formation of a good and suitable business environment. How do you assess this process?

A: APEC has gone a long way since its inception, and APEC member economies have been able to make substantial progress in many areas. For nearly three decades, APEC has contributed to sustaining growth and advancing economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, created millions of jobs and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

One of the main drivers of such progress is the “Bogor Goals” of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, adopted by APEC Leaders when Indonesia hosted and chaired APEC 1994.

Since then, the Bogor Goals have inspired Member Economies in their pursuit for sustainable development and equitable growth. This is done through policies which are aimed at enhancing trade and investment flows through economic openness.

Some of the progress towards the Bogor Goals are:

Tariff rates are much lower relative to that in the 1990s.The number of Regional Trade Agreements/Free Trade Agreements (RTAs/FTAs) inforce has soared since early 2000s. Many sectors are more accessible to foreign investment and services trade thanbefore.Indicators on trade and investment facilitation have improved over time. Living standards have improved. Enrollment in tertiary education has increased significantly. Access to electricity has expanded. Poverty has fallen significantly.

Certainly, there is still more work that APEC Economies can do to improve existing trade and investment conditions, as progress has been uneven across the region, while inequality and unemployment persist.

In general, APEC has been advancing towards the right direction, as trade and investment openness has been accompanied by socioeconomic improvements within the region.

Q: Do you assess the challenges APEC members will have to face to achieve their goals of promoting sustainable and prosperous economic growth in the Asia - Pacific region?

A: We live at a time when the regional and global landscapes have experienced complex and fundamental shifts, as well as far-reaching challenges. For example, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and advancements in technology have been altering our nature of work. They are transforming our societies and the way we connect and interact.

We also note that although the regional and global economic recovery is on a firmer footing, the medium and long-term risks are skewed to the downside. APEC economies, as well the global economies, are encountering intertwined and multi-dimensional issues.

Another challenge is the impact of globalisation. While deepening globalisation and expanding trade and investment have brought unprecedented prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, not all groups and individuals have benefited equally from this process.

These are the “unfinished business” we need to address. With the Bogor Goals expiring in merely three years, we need to accelerate our efforts towards the achievement of the targets, as well prepare ourselves beyond the Bogor Goals.

In this regard, I expect that the upcoming APEC Summit in Vietnam will adopt the “post-2020 Vision”, which will guide APEC’s future directions and assert its leadership in addressing common challenges.

Q: How does Indonesia assess Vietnam's initiatives and role in the forum as well as Vietnam's hosting of the APEC Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum 2017 (APEC)?

A: Indonesia supports APEC Vietnam 2017 priorities under the theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”. The priorities are very much related to the ongoing and emerging challenges today, as well as to APEC’s works to promote growth and regional economic integration.

For example, the priority of “promoting sustainable, innovative, and inclusive growth” is crucial for APEC, as we need to address challenges such as persistent inequality and unemployment, enduring multi-dimensional poverty, and the impacts of technological progress. Vietnam’s initiative to launch the “Action Agenda on Advancing Economic, Financial, and Social Inclusion in the APEC Region” is very much in line with this important priority.

Vietnam has thus far successfully played its leadership role in promoting other important initiatives, such as those on human resources development in the digital age; the strategy for green, sustainable and innovative MSMEs; and on promoting innovative start-ups. Indonesia commends and supports these timely initiatives. We see them as crucial parts of APEC’s works in addressing today’s challenges.
Vietnam’s APEC 2017 priorities are also closely related to Indonesia’s. This year, Indonesia is focusing on the issues of promoting the agenda of rural development and poverty alleviation, fostering maritime cooperation, improving connectivity, and strengthening the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Vietnam as Chair and Host Economy has done its best to accomodate our interests and priorities during the deliberations this year.

As we are getting closer to the Summit, we stand ready to work collaboratively with Vietnam and other Economies in realising a successful APEC year.-VNA