PETALING JAYA: Former International Trade and Industry secretary-general Tan Sri Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria has become the first woman to be appointed executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) secretariat.
APEC Ministers welcomed her appointment during a meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Thursday (Nov 15).
“Her decades of experience, and her record of academic and professional excellence, make her an excellent choice to take on such a challenging position during a period of great change in the region and globally,” said Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato.
Dr Sta Maria will begin her three-year term on Jan 1, 2019, after the conclusion of two consecutive terms by Dr Alan Bollard of New Zealand.
In her capacity, she will serve a membership that accounts for half of global trade and 60% of world GDP, as well as incoming hosts, Chile, Malaysia and New Zealand.
“Building consensus is what drives the implementation of all successful negotiations, and that principle is at the heart of what APEC does so well,” Dr Sta Maria said in a statement.
Dr Sta Maria joined the Malaysian civil service in 1981.
She went on to serve in various capacities for 35 years, including stints in administrative and human development work.
Her role as Miti secretary-general from 2010 to 2016 has made her familiar with bilateral, regional and multilateral fora, and Dr Sta MAria often took the lead in negotiations involving Asean, APEC and the World Trade Organisation on behalf of the Malaysian government.
Dr Sta Maria has a PhD in human resource development and was awarded the Malcom Knowles Award in 2013 for the best dissertation by the Academy of Human Resource Development of the United States.
She will be the third executive director appointed to a fixed three-year term.