Illustrative image (Source: SlideShare)
 
Hanoi (VNA) – Throughout the course of nearly three decades, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has increasingly affirmed its leading role in the global growth and connectivity, making the Asia-Pacific a vibrant region with growing geo-economic and political position in the world.

However, amid developments in the world and the Asia-Pacific, APEC is facing challenges in terms of economic-trade, socio-humans and political-security.

Challenges arising from global economic-trade environment is affecting growth prospect of the Asia-Pacific and APEC member economies in particular. As the world economic growth remains weak and uncertain, the regional growth shows signs of stalling while rising trade protectionism is casting dark shadow over APEC connectivity.

The emergence of protectionism and risk of trade retaliation are likely to hurt positive impacts of initiatives on fiscal policy towards growth of each economy, thus negatively effecting regional trade.

Moreover, increasing inequality in each economy and APEC economies in general, particularly the development gap with the leading economies’ income 40 times higher than that of the least developed economies, is becoming a great barrier to the region’s sustainable development.

Social-environment challenges such as pollution, climate change, aging population, poverty are also thorny problems. Climate change is considered a disaster to the Asia-Pacific where over half of regional countries are among the hardest-hit by global warming. It is forecast that the entire region suffers 70 percent of disaster cases and 90 percent of earthquake incidents globally.

Climate change, disasters and pollution are exacerbating food security instability in the Asia-Pacific which records roughly 500 million people living in hunger.

While APEC member economies account for 40.5 percent of the world’s population, their elderly number makes up about half of the world’s, mostly in China, Russia, the US and Japan. The industrial revolution 4.0 with advanced technologies, automation, and innovation could potentially push millions of people out of the labour market, leading to socio-political instability.

Geo-political conflicts remain while several political-security hotspots in the region are yet to be dealt with. Political situation in several Asian-Pacific nations remains complicated with terrorism, separatism, populism, extreme nationalism posing potential risks.

The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting 2017 scheduled for November 6-11 in the central city of Da Nang, Vietnam, will provide a platform for member economies to discuss ways to overcome difficulties, turn challenges into opportunities and fuel strong and sustainable growth in the region.-VNA