Press Release : 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting news3

Press Release : 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting

          On 15 November 2018, H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, and Ms. Arunee Poolkaew, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, were the Thai representatives at the 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) which was held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, under the theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future”.
          In his statement at the AMM, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs made the following points:
          - Reaffirmed Thailand’s support on rules-based multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO. Thailand also strives to conclude the RCEP during Thailand’s chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2019 and hopes that FTAAP could be launched during Thailand’s chairmanship of APEC in 2022.
          - Thailand believes that inclusive economic growth which will leave no one behind should contain the following 3 elements:
             Firstly, the importance of infrastructure development, as embodied by Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, and promoting connectivity. Thailand has played a prominent role in establishing connectivity framework within ACMECS and beyond, while supporting the implementation of APEC’s Connectivity Blueprint for 2015 – 2025.
             Secondly, APEC members should ensure that all levels of society can benefit from digital technology.  At the same time, APEC needs to address related challenges, especially the effect on jobs and the risk of a ‘digital divide’.  Thailand has therefore pursued educational reform, such as introducing Dual Vocational Education (DVE) so that Thailand’s workforce is equipped with skills aligned with market demand. Thailand is also forming a ministry for higher education, research and innovation in order to drive Thailand toward value-based economy.  Thailand also attaches importance to the issue of cybersecurity and has been working with other economies on the draft framework for securing digital economy since 2015 and looks forward to the finalisation of such document soon.
              Thirdly, APEC should strike a balance between economic growth, environmental sustainability and livable society. In this regard, Thailand proposes that the “Bio-Circular-Green Economy” model could be adapted towards this end; in fact, Thailand has started implementing this concept under the “Isaan 4.0 Model” in Northeastern Thailand. Additionally, Thailand, Viet Nam and Peru have pushed forward the adoption of the APEC Strategy for Green, Sustainable and Innovative MSMEs last year in Da Nang.
          At the same meeting, the Deputy Permanent-Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce delivered a statement on trade issues, as follows:
          - Reaffirmed Thailand’s commitment to the multilateral trading system and support for ways to improve the functioning of the WTO.  Thailand supports work to achieve the Bogor Goals as aspirational goals for Asia-Pacific region in moving towards balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth.
          - Stressed Thailand’s support for trade liberalisation at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels and continue to work on draft proposals on next generation trade and investment issues toward the eventual realisation of comprehensive and inclusive FTAAP.
          - Welcomed various APEC activities including the endorsement of Cross-Cutting Principles on NTMs, Work Program on MSMEs Development and MSMEs’ Integration into Global Value Chains (GVCs). 
          - Recognised APEC as a significant forum to support multilateral trading system and in achieving free flow of trade across the region, as well as establishing rules and policy environment for digital trade and innovation along with green growth sustainability which will provide equal opportunity to businesses of all sizes.
          During this meeting, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs had a bilateral meeting with the Hon. Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, in which they had discussion on various issues, notably the overall Thailand - Australia relationship and Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019 and other regional cooperative framework, such as ACMECS, BIMSTEC and IORA.
 

As delivered

 

Intervention by Thailand
 H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Ms. Arunee Poolkaew, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Minister of Commerce

at the 30th APEC MINISTERIAL MEETING (AMM)

15 November 2018, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

 

(Intervention delivered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs)

 

Mr. Chair,

 

I wish to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to Papua New Guinea for the warm hospitality extended to me and the Thai delegation, and also to express my congratulations to PNG for hosting this APEC meeting.

                        I wish to thank Deputy Director-General Yi of the WTO for his comprehensive briefing on the state of the global economy.

                        I also would like to commend and thank the outgoing Executive Director (ED) Dr. Alan Bollard, for his leadership and guidance of the APEC Secretariat for the past six years. I also would like to welcome the incoming ED, Madam Rebecca Fatima Sta. Maria, and wish her the best success.

 

Mr. Chair,

                        After having listened to ABAC and the WTO’s briefings about the present challenges in the global economy, I am reminded of an ancient Asian proverb that states “Instead of cursing the darkness, one should light a candle”.

Amidst rising protectionism, trade tensions and disruptive technologies, APEC economies must work together to safeguard and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO. We must also reaffirm our commitment to promote free, fair and open trade by addressing the unfinished business of the Bogor Goals and ensure concrete progress towards the realisation of FTAAP.

In December, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP) will be launched covering 11-member economies who already are APEC member economies. Next year, during Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN, we attach high priority to the conclusion of the negotiations and the launching of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP. When RCEP is launched, it will be the largest free trade area in the world with more than half of the world population. RCEP’s footprint will cover the Indo-Pacific Region from India in the West to Japan and South Korea in the East, from China in the North to Australia and New Zealand in the South, with 10 ASEAN economies in the middle. RCEP will signal the emergence of the Indo-Pacific region as the centre of the global economy in the 21st century.  I would like to urge our APEC colleagues to ponder that with the emergence of CPTPP and RCEP, can FTAAP be built on these building blocks and foundations without having to reinvent the wheel? Thailand would be honoured if FTAAP could be launched in 2022 when Thailand hosts the 30th APEC Leaders’ Meeting.

Mr. Chair,

                        On the strengthening of inclusive growth through structural reform,
First, we believe that “Infrastructure and Connectivity” lie at the heart of sustainability. The 2018 APEC Economic Policy Report shows that APEC economies will collectively need to spend 1.75 trillion US Dollar per year from 2020-2025 to address infrastructure deficits. This is why we need to explore innovative financing solution by seeking engagement from other stakeholders, including the private sector. The Government of Thailand is joining hands with the private sector in undertaking one of the infrastructure development projects worth about 50 billion US Dollar, called
the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) covering 3 eastern provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong – all within a few hours drive from Bangkok. The Projects target to develop physical infrastructure, including railroad and seaports, and digital infrastructure such as the EEC innovation clusters (EECi) and the Digital Park (EECd).

                        At sub-regional level, - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam, five mainland Southeast Asian countries, have adopted a Master Plan of Connectivity for 2019 – 2023 in June this year under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy or ACMECS that seeks to promote seamless connectivity within the sub-region, and with other regions beyond the Asia Pacific. Thailand hopes that our work under the ACMECS Master Plan will create a positive spill-over effect that enables APEC to achieve its aspirational goal under the APEC Connectivity Blueprint by 2025. 

                        Second, Thailand views that digital technology is an enabler of inclusive growth, bringing tremendous opportunities to our economies and societies. However, digital economy can be a double-edged sword with potential risks including an increased socio-economic gap between the digital “haves” and “have-nots”, and a loss of jobs in traditional job market, leading to higher rates of youth unemployment. The Thai government has been warned by the World Bank that
72 percent of university graduates in Thailand could be unemployed by 2030 due to the rise of artificial intelligence and robots. Therefore, there is an urgent need for human resources development, including education, training and reskilling. As part of “Thailand 4.0” policy, the Thai government is introducing the Dual Vocational Education System (DVE), where our institutions work with the industry to train our future workers. Moreover, a new Ministry for higher-education, research and innovation will be founded to prepare our people to be able to participate fully in a “value-based economy”. At the same time, the Thai government is promoting entrepreneurship in the digital age by providing young people with technical and entrepreneurial skills that facilitate the founding of their own companies and start-ups. We strongly believe that APEC, together with ABAC, can contribute a lot in this field by expanding the network of young MSME entrepreneurs and start-ups to enable their participation in cross-border trade.

                        In the Digital Economy, cybersecurity will become a very important issue. To ensure that we have secure digital eco-system for our digital economy to expand,
the draft Framework on Securing the Digital Economy which Thailand has been working on with other APEC members since 2015 is more needed than ever, and we look forward to the finalisation of this important document soon.

                        Third, we believe that sustainable and inclusive development means that we should find a balance between economic growth, environmental sustainability and livable society. Therefore, the Thai government has sought to transform the Thai economy to become a BCG economy. “B” stands for bio economy. “C” for circular economy, and “G” for green economy. In this connection, recently, Thailand has launched the “Isaan 4.0 model” to support the growth of bio economy. Isaan refers to the North-eastern part of Thailand, the most populous region of the country. Now we have used technologies to support the realisation of “smart farming” to increase productivity, enhance quality and develop innovative agricultural products,
while protecting the environment. This innovative approach has generated income and benefits to the local communities and MSMEs, the quality of life of our people, and keeping Thailand “green”.

                        To keep our APEC region green, last year in Da Nang, Thailand, together with Viet Nam and Peru, have pushed forward the adoption of the APEC Strategy for Green, Sustainable and Innovative MSMEs. This year, Thailand has taken lead in promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in MSMEs, which is one of the pilot sectors in the Strategy. We welcome additional efforts from member economies to advance this Strategy, by promoting green activities among MSMEs throughout supply chain in other pilot sectors namely Biomass and renewable energy, Construction and green building, Food industries and Textile.

                        Finally, we are pleased that circular and green economy have received a lot of support in the Ministerial Statement and already been included in its latest version.

Now I would like to give the floor to my colleague from the Ministry of Commerce.

 

(Intervention delivered by Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce)

First and foremost, I would like to join others in thanking Papua New Guinea for an excellent hosting and all member economies and their officials for the hard work and constructive contributions they have made throughout the year.
I would like to highlight some points, related to trade and investment issues as follows.

Multilateral Trading System: MTS

Thailand remains committed to the rules-based Multilateral Trading System, as the foundation for stability and predictability in global trade. Thailand supports ways to improve the functioning of the WTO to be more effective, transparent, and legitimate, by taking into account the varying levels of economic developments, and readily improve effectiveness of WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

Furthermore, Thailand supports ways to boost mechanisms for notification obligations, in a more transparent and effective manner. In this regards, Thailand hopes that confidence on MTS could be regained, as well as the significant role of WTO to govern rules and regulation of international trade.

 

Achieving Bogor Goals

Since the release of Bogor Declaration in 1994, APEC economies endeavor to achieve the Bogor Goals by reducing trade barriers, facilitating trade, and improving connectivity and regulation in the region for better business environment. Thailand supports works to achieve the Bogor Goals as aspirational goals for Asia-Pacific region in moving towards a balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth.

Thailand continues to pursue a free trade policy by supporting trade liberalization on multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels, and  places importance on market access and rules, which are aligned with the Bogor Goals to facilitate trade and investment, create a more favorable business environment, ensure fair competition, and deepen regional economic integration.

Regional Economic Integration and FTAAP

On the FTAAP, Thailand realizes significant progress on regional economic integration through the implementation of endorsed initiatives and activities, which are consistent with Lima Declaration on FTAAP.

Furthermore, Thailand is willing to cooperate with APEC economies to continue working on draft proposals on the Next Generation Trade and Investment Issues such as transparency, environment, competition policy and labour. In this connection, Thailand believes that ensuring balance and supportive partnerships on the basis of varying levels of economic development will help advance a step-by-step approach and capabilities of APEC economies to respond the new-generation of trade negotiation.

Thailand envisages FTAAP as comprehensive and high-standard FTAs/RTAs, undertaking open trade and investment in the region. Thailand supports extensive discussions among APEC economies on how to accomplish unfinished business, as mechanism for FTAAP establishment.

APEC Cross-Cutting Principles on Non-Tariff Measures

Application of NTMs should not be more restrictive than necessary to equally impose domestic and imported products. Cross-Cutting Principles should increase transparency of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) applications through strengthened notification process, public consultations and private sector engagement.

Therefore, Thailand welcomes endorsement Cross-Cutting Principles on NTMs as the general guidelines for APEC economies to increase awareness of
the NTMs, to minimize trade barriers to Trade in Goods, and to enhance trade facilitation.

Cross-Cutting Principles on Non-Tariff Measures could be served as
an informative guideline for traders and investors, on the basis of transparency, inclusive consultation, and non-discriminatory approach.

 

MSMEs Internationalization

For MSMEs Internationalization, Thailand supports Work Program on MSMEs Development and MSMEs’ Integration into Global Value Chains (GVCs) to strengthen capability of MSMEs, and accessibilities to regional and global markets, taking into account of financial inclusion, and e-commerce, as well as encouraging MSMEs to utilize digital technology and innovation, and bolster business internationally through online channel.

For Thailand, there are improvements on physical infrastructure, such as logistics and transport infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and soft infrastructure, such as rules and regulatory reform for the purpose of enhancing equal economic opportunities for MSMEs and facilitating trade and investment in digital economy.

Thailand recognizes APEC as a significant forum to support Multilateral Trading System and  to play the leading role in achieving free flow of trade across the region, as well as establishing rules and the policy environment for digital trade and innovation along with green growth sustainability provided the opportunity equally to all size of business.

Thank you very much.

                 

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