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MITI calls for new trade agenda, advancing together in the race to the top
Published on: Thursday, February 15, 2024
By: Bernama
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MITI calls for new trade agenda, advancing together in the race to the top
To tap into growth opportunities, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation governments and the private sector must collaborate for tangible outcomes, says deputy investment, trade and industry minister Liew Chin Tong.
PETALING JAYA: The world needs a new trade agenda which is not the regurgitation of old cliches but rather a fresh approach, to steer nations away from racing to the bottom but to push forward for the race to the top together, said deputy investment, trade and industry minister Liew Chin Tong.

He said the new trade agenda would have to take into account that trade has to ensure workers are well paid and that both advanced economies and developing countries could sustain a robust middle class.

“It would also have to place climate at its centre while ensuring that states receive adequate taxes from multinationals to provide services, especially health services, and to ensure social cohesion,” he said.

Liew added that trade needs to connect the dots between climate, the sustenance of a middle-class society, and ensuring that the workforce is healthy, and feel secure enough about their lives so that they could consume as consumers, not just workers.

“Therefore, avoiding racing to the bottom and ensuring that we create the conditions for economies racing to the top should be the new trade agenda,” Liew said during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting opening speech today.

He pointed out that geopolitical tensions and wars are now dominating headlines and yet three decades ago, the world was a much more optimistic place.

“The idea of APEC reminds us that there is an alternative vision of a peaceful, prosperous and collaborative Asia-Pacific and that amid the contemporary divisiveness, economic cooperation among nations is still a worthy pursuit,” he said.

Liew said there is not any other regional grouping in which the US, China, Russia are members, and subnational economies of China, are all sitting at the same table.

“The existence of APEC itself is already a cause for us to celebrate and, more importantly, APEC gives us an organisational form and an alternative vision. Indeed, APEC gives us hope in an otherwise darker period of global history,” he added.

He said that for Malaysia, APEC remains an important forum to outlay the nation’s economic strategies and aspirations.

“From nurturing a vibrant digital landscape to protecting our shared environment, Malaysia’s domestic initiatives echo the very spirit of APEC’s agenda,” he said.

In this connection, he said Malaysia introduced two ground-breaking national policies last year, which include the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP 2030) and the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR).

“At the core of these policies, we will find that it is very much aligned with Malaysia’s commitment to APEC’s trade facilitation and closer economic cooperation priorities,” he said.

Further on ABAC, he said that beyond the agenda of facilitating trade and investment, it must also emerge as a stalwart champion of dialogue and understanding, a proactive force promoting economic stability and sustainability in our region.

“Through open communication, shared interest and an unwavering commitment to economic cooperation, APEC members can bridge divides and fortify a more resilient Asia-Pacific,” he said, adding that views from ABAC will help governments to realise APEC’s vision and mission.

In order to tap into and leverage the boundless growth opportunities, he said public-private partnerships and cooperation between APEC governments and the private sector are key to achieving tangible outcomes.

“Let us come together at today’s meeting with a commitment to translate the theme of “People. Business. Prosperity” into tangible APEC initiatives in line with Putrajaya Vision 2040.

“By doing so, we can ensure that the outcomes of our collective efforts lead not only to economic prosperity this year but serve as important building blocks towards continuous, resilient and sustainable growth into the future,” Liew added.

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