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Public urges economic integration to address global challenges

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LIMA, Peru – Despite limited understanding of multilateralism, the public recognizes the need for economic integration as essential to tackling global challenges effectively. That is according to the APEC Secretariat’s 2023 perception survey, Communicating the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which highlights the public’s call for international cooperation to address global crises.

The survey, conducted in September 2023 obtained the views of more than 7,000 respondents across 18 APEC member economies, identifies trends across the Asia-Pacific in public perceptions towards multilateralism and the role of multilateral organizations.

Capturing the views from a representative sample across wide demographics, the survey explores how APEC’s stakeholders-the region’s citizens-see APEC navigating current challenges with respect to the three economic drivers outlined in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040: trade and investment; innovation and digitalization; and strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Introduced to senior officials at a symposium on APEC priorities for 2024 in Lima this week, the survey findings are set to help APEC policymakers formulate priorities that resonate with public demand and improve communications with its stakeholders.

The report recommends that to enhance the efficacy of multilateralism, it is essential to highlight its contribution to inclusive and sustainable growth and how it resolves immediate concerns, countering public perceptions of unequal benefits. Beyond the trade of goods and services, the public also expects international trade to foster best practices across economies.

“The public considers it the responsibility of economies to share learning and experience with other economies to help them progress,” said ambassador Carlos Vasquez, 2024 chair of APEC senior officials.

“APEC as a cooperative forum that is an incubator of ideas matches the public’s expectation,” ambassador Vasquez added. “Peru is dedicated to cooperation and consensus throughout the 2024 host year.”  

The report further notes the expansion of the role for intergovernmental organizations like APEC. In particular, the public sees their role extending beyond fostering digitalization in trade and investment. They expect them to also address the digital divide, establish best practices, and mitigate security and misinformation risks.

“Digital transformation is seen to bring positive impacts to local economies,” said Daniel Quiroga, vice chair of Edelman Global Advisory Latin America, who presented the survey findings.

“With strong support for digital transformation as a driver of economic progress, it is critical to recognize both its potential for growth and innovation and the concerns it raises regarding cybersecurity, misinformation and job loss,” he added.

In Peru, for example, almost two-thirds of the respondents-11 percent more than the average across APEC-expressed interest in promoting e-commerce and digital trade as a way to boost the digital economy.

Apart from trade, the public expects APEC to play a stronger role in resolving deeper issues including building stronger resilience to health and economic shocks, crises and emergencies, as well as addressing climate change and promoting environmental sustainability.

The report underscores the importance of collaboration among intergovernmental organizations, governments and policymakers to work together to tackle the perceived challenges in policy support and implementation, making inclusive and sustainable growth more achievable and tangible for everyone.

“While there is limited association between the promotion of environmental sustainability, health resilience and APEC, APEC host economies setting priorities that resonate with the public can shift this perception,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, executive director of APEC Secretariat.

“Encouraging results of the leaders’ meeting in San Francisco proves again the importance and relevance of our forum,” expressed Ambassador Vasquez. “Research institutions, press and media, civil society, international organizations and other stakeholders are particularly critical to the formulation of APEC’s theme for 2024, ‘Empower, Include and Grow’ and the consensus we have achieved to carry this forward.” 

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