Malaysian PM urges Apec economies to ensure free, open trade

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, speaks at a CEO Dialogue forum via video link, ahead of the Apec leaders' summit, hosted by Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Nov. 19, 2020. - AP

KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua): Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday (Nov 19) urged members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) to recommit themselves to the group's core goal of free and open trade and investment.

In his opening speech at the Apec CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, Muhyiddin said the goal is integral to rebuilding economies in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"These priorities are free and open trade and investment, regional economic integration, as well as economic and technical cooperation. What has and will continue to evolve will be the need to view these priorities through a pair of Covid-19 lenses."

"While the core pillars that inform Apec work will likely remain the same, there is now a real and specific necessity to ensure a delicate balance between our health priorities and economic needs," he said.

Of the key thrusts for this year's Apec, Muhyiddin outlined three areas that Apec needs to focus on: support and commitment for the rules-based multilateral trading system, bolster the digital economy and inclusive economic growth.

He also said closer cooperation between governments and the respective private sector of each economy is important to drive growth and generate prosperity.

"While the government can continue to undertake measures that preserve an ecosystem oriented towards trade and investment, it is ultimately the drive, resilience and adaptability of the private sector that will enhance the economic prosperity of Apec," he said.

Malaysia would host a virtual Apec economic leaders' meeting on Friday.

Under the theme "Apec Re-Imagined: Priorities in the Aftermath of Covid-19," Apec CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, hosted by the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) -- Malaysia, will connect government and business leaders from across the 21 member economies to discuss urgent issues facing the Asia-Pacific region and the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apec is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.

Apec's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

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