Last working day of Committees and Working groups in the framework of SOM 3 and Related Meetings

27 August 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam – Two important activities took place today were Friends of the Chair on Connectivity Meeting and SOM Dialogue on RTAs/FTAs in the Asia – Pacific region. Over 200 delegates, including APEC Senior Officials, representatives of economies, academia and businesses joined these meetings.

Vietnamese Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, APEC 2017 SOM Chair, H.E Bui Thanh Son, co-chaired the Friends of the Chair on Connectivity Meeting. Delegates were updated on the implementation progress of APEC Connectivity Blueprint, including the outcomes of the High-level Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Tourism last June; the APEC Guidebook on Quality Infrastructure Development and Investment; APEC Port Service Network; the Paper on Inventory of Best Practices on the three pillars of the APEC Connectivity Blueprint. Delegates also has the opportunity to listen to ASEAN Secretariat’s sharing of experiences on the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.

Strengthened connectivity will contribute to opening up new sources of economic growth, fostering inclusive and interconnected development, advancing regional economic integration toward achieving the goal of a seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated Asia-Pacific by 2025.

Toward this end, in 2014, APEC Economic Leaders established an APEC Framework on Connectivity that embodied APEC’s long-term commitment to accelerate its connectivity within its three pillars, namely physical, institutional and people-to-people. In 2015, APEC economies adopted the APEC Connectivity Blueprint 2015-2025. This Blueprint was expected to promote the implementation of APEC growth strategies; strengthen regional quality transportation networks; reduce transaction costs; make the region more competitive and cohesive; and enhance the synergy and cooperation among various infrastructure connectivity programs in the region.

Today APEC delegates also attended SOM Dialogue on RTAs/FTAs in the Asia – Pacific region, where they exchanged views, experiences in negotiating, signing and implementing RTAs/FTAs.

APEC is naturally the best platform to discuss FTAs/RTAs”, affirmed APEC 2017 SOM Chair Bui Thanh Son. He also stressed that RTAs/FTAs play a significant role in creating new dynamism for economic growth as well as for investment and trade in the region.

As of December 2016, 165 RTAs/FTAs signed by at least one APEC member economy has gone into effect, 62 of them intra-APEC agreements.

APEC is striving toward the completion of the Bogor Goals and committed to take concrete steps toward the eventual realization of the FTAAP.

RTAs/FTAs have brought about great benefits in terms of economic growth, market access, FDI attraction, and have helped motivate and reinforce broader reforms in domestic policy. However, given the current regional and global context, particularly of the rapid evolution of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the question is how to make the best use of RTAs/FTAs socio-economic benefits, and at the same time, mitigate their adverse effects such as adjustment costs, increasing income inequality, and so on.

Moreover, given the diverse economic, political and development context of economies in the region, APEC's sharing of information, exchanging of experiences and policy discussions on negotiating and signing RTAs/FTAs are extremely useful, practical and necessary for joint economic development, social stability and shared prosperity throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Today is the last working day of all APEC Committees and Working Groups. SOM 3 will open on 29 August.