Najib: Apec leaders’ summit ends on optimistic note

najib-razak-apecDA NANG (Vietnam): The 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Summit (AELM) wrapped up with a greater sense of optimism about the state of the world’s economy, Prime Minister Najib Razak says.

He said the sentiment was bolstered by a presentation by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, that showed global economic recovery had been better than expected.

“This is a good news to APEC. With the economic recovery, we can increase cooperation, trade facilitation and regional integration,” Najib told Malaysian media here at the end of the two-day APEC Leaders’ Summit.

Lagarde said the world economy had expanded by 3.2% last year.

It is expected to increase by 3.6% this year and 3.7% in 2018.

“She gave an analogy regarding the stronger global economic recovery. She said now that the sun is out, it is time to fix the roof,” Najib said, adding that economies should take advantage of the bullish economic outlook to prepare for rainy days.

“If you are a deficit country, reduce the deficit. If you need to make reforms, make the reforms. If you are a high-debt country, reduce your debt so that you have more fiscal space if the economy turns sour,” he said.

Najib said APEC has achieved significant success and since its inception, member economies have tirelessly reduced barriers to trade and investment.

The results reflected that while APEC accounted for about 40% of the world’s population, it accounted for about 60.5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 51% of global trade and 53.1% of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Apec’s total trade in goods and services also increased five-fold since its inception in 1989 to US$15.9 trillion (RM66.57 trillion) in 2016. Meanwhile, intra-Apec merchandise trade grew more than nine-fold to US$15.5 trillion in 2014.

Najib said during the summit, leaders also recognised the importance of the Internet and digital economy as the key drivers of global economy.

“Malaysia has suggested the establishment of an ad-hoc steering group on the Internet and digital economy. The meeting also recognised the contribution of Malaysia in the form of the roadmap of Apec’s digital economy,” Najib said, adding that Malaysia also supported Vietnam’s suggestion for a working group to suggest a post-2020 vision for Apec.

It should be exciting, inspirational and attainable as Malaysia would chair Apec in 2020, he said.

Najib also said the Digital Free Trade Zone gained significant traction among Apec leaders.

“I also raised concern about human capital development and the need for us to revamp our school curriculum to ensure we are producing the right kind of people for Industry 4.0 and for jobs that have yet to exist,” he added.

Najib shared that the leaders also committed to attaining the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investments in the region.

“We agree to accelerate efforts to address WTO-inconsistent barriers to trade and investment and take concrete action towards the achievement of the Bogor Goals by 2020.

“We also note the importance of non-discriminatory, reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment frameworks,” he said.

Najib said the recent progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), meant that there was a moral commitment among the 11-member states.

“After this, there is much work to be done and Malaysia will continue to address our sensitive socio-economic policies such as Bumiputera preferences and measures for public health.

“We will not sacrifice our important domestic agenda as a result of agreeing to adopt the TPP,” said Najib.

The member states of the ambitious trade pact reached a deal to proceed after a tumultuous series of negotiations in Da Nang after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s no show at the TPP Leaders’ Meeting, almost derailed efforts to revive the agreement.