Home Ed. 2019 December OFFICIATING SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH OF APEC 2020

OFFICIATING SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH OF APEC 2020

It is with great pleasure that I welcome the representatives of the APEC, Ambassa-dors and HighCommissioners, distinguished business leaders, government of?cials and all guests to the launchingof APEC 2020 at this site which has its own signi?cance to the event.

In 1998, when Malaysia ?rst hosted APEC and I was the 4th Prime Minister then, we chose Cyberjayafor the Leaders’ Meeting as we wanted to showcase Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor, our veryown hub for the future development of the ICT, multimedia products and services.

Cyberjaya of today has lived up to its name and is a prime location for technology-related companiesas well as government agencies. We believe it is quite ?tting for Malaysia to kick-start our secondopportunity to host APEC at the same place as we did just over two decades ago.

COOPERATING IN UNCERTAINTIES

Malaysia is proud to be hosting APEC again after 22 years. The year 2020 is indeed a signi?cant yearfor APEC as it marks the end of the Bogor Goals which was idealised in 1994 and had beenprogressively pursued by member nations since.

The goals were broadly target-ed to see that member economies would achieve the long-term goal offree and open trade and investment in the Asia-Paci?c region.

According to the 2018 Bo-gor Goals Progress Report, tariffs have fallen, more free trade agreementsare improving market access conditions for goods and services, and custom reforms are making iteasi-er, cheaper and faster to trade.

As we take on the Chairmanship next year, we remain cognisant of the fact that the world right now isseeing a de?cit of faith across many economies. The people are losing sight of the relevance or bene?tof the prevailing global economic model due to many imbalances which have impacted their dailylives. In 1998, when we ?rst hosted APEC, many economies in the region were taking steps to mitigate theadverse impact of the 1997 Asian ?nancial crisis and efforts were concentrated on restoring ?nancialstability and strengthening economic growth. However, the global economic community at that timerallied together and af?rmed their faith towards globali-sation as it would create more opportunities formany economies.

Today, Malaysia will launch APEC 2020 against almost a similar backdrop when downside risks arecontinuing to build up and trade policy tensions are still with us. All these trends will continue to weakeninvestors’ con?dence, leading to the diminishing trust in the bene?ts of global trade and investment tothe everyday people.

The APEC region commands 60 per cent of global GDP and almost 50 per cent of global trade. Withthis huge market potential, we must strive to do things right and create opportunities arising from ourstrong base. We must acknowledge that there are inherent discontents among our citizens on basic issues such as high cost of living, housing, unemployment and low wages. So, it is also our role here in APEC to ensure that we contribute to sharing the bene?ts that trade can bring about to the society at large.

Malaysia embraces all these challenges with a vision to ensure APEC 2020 is a success wher-ebene?ts from trade, investment and economic cooperation are felt and enjoyed by our people.

At the recent ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, I called upon ASEAN Member States to band together andspeak with one voice in addressing global trade disputes. Likewise, APEC must be united and harnessour collective strength to overcome issues and challenges, realign our faith and charge forward.

DEFINING AND REDIFINING OUR EFFORTS

In order to restore faith, we need to give meaning to our economic development efforts. We must worktogether towards equitable share of bene?ts, from large corporations to small-and-medium enterpris-esright down to our citizens.

As a diverse forum and an incubator of ideas, APEC is well positioned to capitalise on its strength ofvoluntary, non-binding and consensus decision-making to instil and advocate more meaningful resultsin the global trade and investment arena. As a reality check, APEC initiatives must now move pastliberalisation initiatives to be more inclusive and involve all segments of the population.

APEC is important to Malay-sia. The region accounts for more than 80 percent of our total trade andmore than 70 percent of our Foreign Direct Investment in the manufacturing sector. About 40 percentof the jobs created are directly attributable to activities linked to exports. So it is also in our interest toensure that this region remains business-friendly, and that trade and investment pol-icies bringprosperity for all, right down to the man on the street.

In the Asian culture, sharing of prosperity is a norm and it is a given that when something goodhappens to us, we share the good news by throwing a feast. In other words, prosperity sharing doesn’t require a change in mind-set or a philosophy that needs tobe learnt and adopted. It is an inherent trait among us.

Malaysia has chosen the theme ‘Optimising Human Potential towards a Future of Shared Prosperity’for APEC 2020, indicating that the philosophy underpinning this gathering is ‘Shared Prosperity.’

When I delivered the keynote address at the CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea last year, I calledupon APEC economies to promote the concept of Shared Prosperity, very much in the spir-it of‘Prosper Thy Neighbour’ call that Malaysia had made in the past.

At the home front, Malaysia recently launched the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 with the aim atcreating an economy that can achieve a balanced and sustainable growth, along with fair andequitable wealth distribution across income groups, ethnicities, geographical regions and supplychains.
To my mind, it is time that member economies consider embracing this philosophy and embed it inthe current economic model. Improving the overall wellbeing of our people and enabling every citizento have a more decent living standard will make APEC sustainable and relevant as a grouping in thelong run.

In other words, trade and investment narratives will move beyond the creation of wealth, jobs anddevelopment into ensuring societal well-being as well.

In this regard, as host of APEC 2020, Malaysia will continue the work on women in the economy;?nancial inclusion; engaging youth; sustainable development; and creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurs, start-ups and social enterprise as all these elements are critical components of a system that will contribute to shared prosperity.

In realising this vision, I strongly believe we would be more resolute if we combined our strength andpull our resources together so that we could weather any adversities that come our way.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RELEVANCE

APEC celebrates its 30th birthday this year. For a forum that operates on the principles of voluntary,nonbinding and consensus, the resilience of APEC is remarkable.

For an organisation to be resilient, it must continue to serve its purpose; stay relevant; and keep upwith the times. Every year, APEC Leaders will travel thousands of miles across the Paci?c Ocean toattend the APEC Leaders’ Week. That in itself, shows the strong faith that we have in this organisa-tion.Certainly, Malaysia would want to keep this tradition alive.

To this end, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the government and thepeople of Chile, as the outgoing host of 2019, for the work done to take forward the many initiativesto strengthen economic cooperation among our 21 economies.

Like others, Malaysia would like to express our regret over the cancellation of Chile’s APEC Leaders’Meeting last month. We understand the challenges faced by the government of Chile and hope thatthe situation in Chile will return to normalcy soon.

This, however, did not negate all the good work done by Chile throughout her hosting year. Infurthering Chile’s commendable work, I invite all the APEC Economic Leaders to Malaysia inNovember 2020 to discuss the issues that matter to the resilience of APEC, the resilience of tradeand investment, and the resil-ience of our economic wellbeing.

The Post-2020 Vision for APEC which we will launch next year would chart the future direction ofAPEC towards ensuring its continued relevance under a more inclusive approach. It will be built onthe Bogor Goals as well as value-add and complement the work of APEC over the past 30 years andpreserve its status as a premier economic forum for years to come.

More importantly, Ma-laysia would like to see the concept of shared prosperity driving the Vision andthe philosophy cascades to every work that APEC undertakes moving forward beyond Bogor Goals.

On that note, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to experience APEC 2020 and I lookforward to the support of all in making APEC 2020 a success. I hereby of?cially launch APEC 2020.

Thank you.

By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad