Top Stories : Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand  attended the 26th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting during 17 – 18 November 2018, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea news3

Top Stories : Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand attended the 26th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting during 17 – 18 November 2018, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

          During 17 – 18 November 2018, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand and his spouse, accompanied by H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, attended the 26th AELM Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. On 17 November 2018, the Prime Minister attended the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Dialogue with APEC Leaders, followed by a meeting with leaders of the Pacific Islands Countries (PICs). 

          The AELM properly started on 18 November 2018, in which APEC leaders exchanged ideas on how to promote economic development and trade within the Asia-Pacific region under the theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future” set by Papua New Guinea as APEC Chairman.

          Although leaders were unable to issue a Leaders’ Declaration after the Meeting due to a lack of consensus on the issue of multilateral trading system, the host is due to issue a Chairman’s Statement reflecting the outcome of AELM. This Statement is expected to incorporate many issues of Thailand’s interest, including digital economy, SMEs capacity building, women’s participation in the economy, green business practices and connectivity.

          During the AELM, the Prime Minister delivered remarks stressing Thailand’s commitment to the multilateral trading system under the WTO and its readiness to cooperate constructively with other APEC economies. He suggested that APEC could expand its cooperation in areas such as re-skilling, training and education in order to adapt the workforce to digitalisation, capacity building and development of experts in the area of cyber security, supporting the multilateral trading system as embodied in WTO and the realisation of the FTAAP (Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific). He also noted that Thailand, as an agricultural economy, attached particular importance to food security, sustainable agriculture and fisheries practices, proposing the use of new technologies and innovation to upgrade value added in these sectors. In this vein, the Prime Minister proposed that the BCG model (Bio-Circular-Green Economy) could be a best practice for fostering economic growth while ensuring environmental sustainability.

          In addition, it was emphasised that Thailand has long played a strong role as a “connector of connectivity” in its membership of ACMECS, ASEAN and APEC; it was therefore proposed that existing frameworks such as CPTPP, RCEP and Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) could be linked together to synchronise their implementation. The Prime Minister noted that during Thailand’s ASEAN chairmanship in 2019, Thailand will push forward APEC priorities under ASEAN framework.

          On APEC’s Post-2020 Vision, the Prime Minister said that Thailand supports the idea of “Rebalancing APEC”, which focuses on inclusive growth within APEC, in addition to the grouping’s longstanding vision of trade and investment liberalisation, based on people-centred approach and green business practices.

          The Dialogue between the ABAC and APEC Leaders on 17 November 2018 covered a wide range of issues. Responding to a question from the ABAC about Thailand’s views on the growth of the digital economy, the Prime Minister stressed that while development of digital infrastructure was importnat, it was also necessary to introduce regulatory reform and adapt the educational system to train the workforce for the digital economy as well as skills development in line with the demand of labour market in the 21st century.  In this regard, the Thai Government introduced various measures to address the aforementioned issues such as connecting high-speed internet across the country and joint cooperation with private sector to create platforms for MSMEs to maximise opportunities arising from e-commerce in order for them to effectively participate in the global market.

          The Prime Minister also interacted with various APEC leaders including China, Russia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

          Prior to the AELM, the Thai delegation to the 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held on 15 November 2018 was led by H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ms. Arunee Poolkaew, Deputy Permanent-Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce.