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APEC Thailand 2022 is right on track before Leaders’ Meeting in November

By Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Thailand APEC Senior Official and Chair of the APEC Safe Passage Taskforce

With the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting just around the corner, Thailand recently concluded the Third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) and Related Meetings, during 16-30 August 2022 in Chiang Mai. SOM3 is the largest cluster of APEC meetings this year comprising over 60 meetings, most of which in physical format, involving more than 1,800 participants. As the knowledge and innovation hub of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai was fitting venue that mirrors APEC’s role as the region’s incubator of ideas. 

Building on progress since the start of the year, APEC senior officials, delegates and experts actively engaged in the 2-week-long cluster of meetings to accelerate efforts towards realising APEC 2022’s priorities of open trade and investment, seamless connectivity and balanced growth, under the theme “Open. Connect. Balance.” Significant advancement has been made on our strategic priority areas and key deliverables, as Thailand’s APEC host year heads into the final homestretch. Let’s take a quick look at what we have accomplished so far. 

On open trade and investment opportunities, SOM3 continued the refreshed conversation on the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) in the post-COVID-19 context. Building on the successful outcome of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in May 2022, APEC experts started developing the FTAAP multi-year work plan to establish a long-term framework for the FTAAP dialogue. Capacity building programmes will be a key component of the workplan, aimed at narrowing development gap among member economies on issues such as digitalisation and MSMEs’ participation in e-commerce. This will also help facilitate more inclusive trade and investment opportunities for all. 

On reconnecting the region to help rebuild travel and tourism industries, and revive the region’s economy from COVID-19, Thailand hosted the third and final meeting of the Safe Passage Taskforce during SOM3. Economies discussed the launch of an APEC travel information portal later this month, as well as the practical application of the “Voluntary Principles on Interoperability of Vaccination Certificates and ongoing initiatives such as a more inclusive APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) to help facilitate travel and boost tourism. Although the mandate of the Thailand-led Safe Passage Taskforce will expire in November, APEC’s work on safe passage will continue through an appropriate mechanism to address ongoing challenges and future-proof the region from disruptions in cross-border travel. 

On promoting an inclusive, balanced, and sustainable growth, a Roundtable discussion was held on the margins of SOM3 to highlight the importance of the whole-of-society approach, by bringing all sectors of society together to share their success stories and best practices in forging a partnership and transforming their businesses on a sustainable path. SOM3 also advanced the discussion on the draft Bangkok Goals on BCG Economy, which will be submitted for endorsement by APEC Leaders. The Bangkok Goals on BCG Economy will be a lasting legacy of APEC2022, guiding APEC’s sustainability work going forward, including climate change mitigation, sustainable trade and investment, environmental conservation and waste management, for our future generations. 

To date, Thailand has also hosted seven successful sectoral APEC Ministerial Meetings, namely, trade, tourism, forestry, health, food security, women and SMEs. These Ministerial Meetings highlighted the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy as an approach that can help promote sustainable economic recovery.

Central to the conversations at SOM3 and the sectoral Ministerial Meetings is the recurring focus on sustainability, inclusion and resilience building, as Thailand seeks to navigate the Asia-Pacific region through ongoing global economic challenges towards economic recovery from COVID-19 and a quality growth model. One that is both economically viable and environmentally sound. One that sees benefits trickling down through all parts of society so that even the most vulnerable will be better equipped to handle comparable crises or any future disruptions. SOM3 has well-positioned APEC2022 leading up to the Leaders’ Meeting. Thailand is ready to warmly welcome APEC Leaders in November to endorse our strategic priority areas and key deliverables. 

APEC Thailand 2022 is right on track before Leaders’ Meeting in November. (2022, September 23). Bangkok Post.