Asia-Pacific region should push for free trade, sustainable development: Malaysian expert

Malaysia's Senior Minister, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali arrives to chair the virtual APEC Ministerial Meeting on Nov 16, 2020 in Kuala Lumpur. - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua): Asia-Pacific economies should strengthen anti-Covid-19 cooperation and promote economic recovery while facing the impacts of Covid-19, said Herizal Hazri, chief executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia.

Herizal made the remarks in a recent written interview with Xinhua.

He said Asia-Pacific economies should also push for free trade and lay the groundwork for future regional development in a more resilient and sustainable way.

"As the pandemic is experienced by all in different degrees and intensity, APEC (the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) economies need to work together to combat the pandemic," Herizal said, adding that to manage the crisis more effectively needs coordination and cooperation across economies.

Herizal called for continuous efforts by the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen trade liberalisation, promote economic integration and tackle non-tariff barriers.

He also urged economies in the region to build on the momentum of the existing trade arrangements, including the newly signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to develop and realize a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) at an early date.

Herizal expects the RCEP to boost trade among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its trading partners including China.

"With this new commitment it is hoped that FDI inflow from China will be increased post pandemic as well. This is beneficial for Malaysia in particular and Southeast Asia in general as we are aiming to strengthen our digital economy and participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 with proper infrastructure and skills available," he said.

Malaysia is to host the virtual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting this week and the meeting is expected to launch a Post-2020 Vision to replace Bogor Goals which expires by the end of this year.

Herizal pointed out that it is time for APEC to move in the direction of low-carbon economy and focus on more balanced and inclusive development.

"Now, more than ever, trade reforms need to prioritize and balance sustainable growth for the population as well as our environment," he said.

"The Pandemic has given us this sense of urgency: what we do now must be able to... create a more resilient and sustainable future economy," he added.

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