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The 28th PECC General Meeting concluded on 22nd July 2021. The event was hosted by the New Zealand Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (NZPECC) on the theme of “Implementing the Putrajaya Vision: Revitalising the Regional Economy and Ensuring Sustainable and Inclusive Societies”. The 2- days conference provided valuable insights and in-depth discussions from distinguished speakers and panellists, focusing on 4 key themes:
1. Challenges of the COVID recovery: Managing COVID and the Challenges of Reviving Regional Growth
2. Rebuilding Support for Open Trade
3. The Emerging Issues in the Digital Economy
4. Climate Change
The Pacific Economic Cooperation Council elected Ambassador Zhan Yongxin, Chair of the China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (CNCPEC) as International Co-Chair. Prior to joining CNCPEC, Amb. Zhan held various governmental positions such as Second Secretary, Department of International Organizations and Conferences, MFA, and Ambassador to Israel. On assuming the role of Co-Chair of PECC, Amb. Zhan observed and recognized the challenges and impact of the Covid-19 on the economic recovery and Covid-19 response, the importance of international cooperation and the implementation of Putrajaya vision to forge a better future in the Asia-Pacific region.
In his opening remarks, Dr Richard Cantor, International Co-Chair of PECC highlighted the importance of international cooperation. He underscored that “It is critical that make the most of opportunities to show that governments can come together, and see that our own domestic interests are best served when we find cooperative solutions to the problems we face”. He highlighted the milestones in 2021 with the APEC leaders meeting, the COP26 climate change summit, and the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference as opportunities for progress.
New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Hon. Damien O’ Connor opened the event with a keynote address in which he underscored the New Zealand overarching approach for APEC 2021, which are trade and economic policies will strengthen recovery, increasing inclusion and sustainability recovery, and pursuing innovation in a digitally enabled recovery. Minister O’Connor highlighted the recent APEC informal leaders retreat meeting, where 3 key elements for recovery were discussed by the leaders: getting vaccines and other essential goods flowing efficiently across the region; the role of trade and investment in tackling the impact of Covid-19 pandemic; and enabling a strong economic growth recovery for all our people. Additionally, he underlined that leaders recognized the importance of harnessing innovation that enable people and businesses to emerge stronger through high quality jobs and increased opportunities. Minister O’Connor said that the “The deep linkages between our economies and communities mean we all have a stake in each other successful return to growth”.
Mr. Brian Lynch, Chair of NZPECC reflecting on the discussions over the course of the General Meeting said that there were new lines of thoughts, knowledge and understanding on Asia-Pacific’s most pressing challenges during the pandemic, which delivered much worthy materials to ponder upon. They can be brought to bear to benefit the successful execution of PECC projects. This will also reinforce PECC’s reputation as source of sound ideas and put PECC is a strong position to contribute to the discussion of the Putrajaya Vision’s implementation.
In closing the PECC General Meeting, Amb. Zhan said, “it’s very important to strengthen international cooperation for Covid response, particularly for boosting cooperation for products and distribution of vaccines. And increase the accessibility and the affordability so that we can effectively overcome the challenges and revitalize the regional economy". Amb. Zhan also highlighted that “the Putrajaya vision sets out ambitious goals and important guidelines for future cooperation. This should be taken as a new starting point for us to begin another phase of Asia-Pacific cooperation”. To conclude, he underlined that by “Playing an active role in building an open trade economy, holding multilateral trading system, and spearheading economic globalization, the day will come when we beat the covid-19, let us work in solidarity and weather the storm together. Let us stay true for openness and cooperation. Together we can surely ensure a bright future for all of us in the Asia Pacific”.