DANANG, Vietnam – Inclusive growth and the digital economy formed the focus of discussions at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit that began on Wednesday in Vietnam, with the meeting of foreign and economy ministers of 21 countries.
The two issues were proposed by APEC’s senior officials, who met two days earlier to mark out the priorities for this year’s summit being held in Danang and which will end Sunday.
At the summit’s opening remarks Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed that the fourth industrial revolution – marked by digital technology – generates not only hopes for greater productivity but also anxieties.
He also advocated the need to promote a new dynamism based on regional cooperation and integration to address the risks facing the economy, which have become more acute.
He cited increased inequalities, regional tensions, terrorism, natural disasters and cybersecurity as among the threats.
Minh said the summit will revolve around four axes: promotion of innovative, inclusive and sustainable trade, intensification of regional economic integration, reinforcement of small and medium-sized enterprises in the digital age and promotion of food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change.
The ministerial meeting will set the framework for the debate on the meeting of political and business leaders, which officially begins Wednesday afternoon, but most leaders will arrive in Danang between Thursday and Friday.
Presidents of the United States, China and Russia (Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively) along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are all expected to attend the summit on Friday.
APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.
The bloc accounts for 59 percent of global GDP, 49 percent of global trade, and forms a market of about 2.85 billion consumers.