Opening Remarks of Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali on APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM)

Excellencies, Fellow Ministers, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, ABAC 2020 Chair, Observers, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen;

• It is indeed my honour and privilege to welcome all of you to the first ever fully virtual APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM), today.

• It is rather unfortunate that we are unable to meet physically in scenic Kuala Lumpur.  However, to help set the ambience, we have shared with you a digital backdrop of the Kuala Lumpur cityscape, and I am pleased to see this displayed behind all of you.

• Our Meeting today takes place almost at the tail end of Malaysia’s host year, and what a journey it has been!  We have pivoted, prioritised and progressed work on a number of APEC initiatives, despite the challenging circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• It has been quite a ride, to say the least, but we take pride in the fact that we have made remarkable strides on numerous areas of mutual interest.

• Of immense and particular significance is of course the completion of our work in formulating the Post-2020 Vision.  This document is set to build on the success of Bogor Goals and will chart the long-term strategic direction for the region, in the years to come, at least for the next two decades.

• I am tremendously honoured that Malaysia is the lead penholder for this crucial document, one that envisions an open, dynamic and resilient Asia Pacific community built upon Shared Prosperity, and I am also equally humbled by the resounding support, flexibility and cooperation rendered to Malaysia, by all Economies, in finalising the Vision.

• In addition to formulating the Vision, we have also advanced our work on the regional trade and investment agenda, remaining true to the crux of APEC.  And we have done so while simultaneously managing the challenges unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused massive disruption to supply chains and wreaking havoc to the global economic landscape.

• Nevertheless, we have also been prompt to ensure that there is a specific focus on enhancing the role of trade and investment in navigating the region along a path of robust economic recovery, post-pandemic.

• This commitment to the relentless pursuit of free and open trade and investment, made even more imperative during these challenging times, demonstrates our resolute determination to the value-system of APEC.  This underscores the will and conviction of the Asia Pacific to continue to resist the forces of protectionism, in whatever form that they may come.

• The region will also strengthen support to a well-functioning, rules-based multilateral trading system, while remaining steadfast to advancing the development agenda of the WTO.

• This year, we also made it a priority to improve the narrative of trade and investment, by translating these elements into inclusive economic growth that brings palpable benefits and greater wellbeing to all our people.  In this regard, we have placed particular emphasis on shared prosperity, to enable more effective and meaningful economic participation by all segments of our societies.

• The year also saw us reinvigorating our efforts towards regional economic recovery and growth, while bringing APEC closer to the people.  We exchanged views and shared information regarding our policy responses and intervention measures that were aimed at reopening our economic activities, returning our workers to employment and allowing our people to move across borders through the introduction of travel bubbles; all while managing our collective concerns regarding the health, safety and wellbeing of our people.  The travel bubbles that are emerging within the region are a crucial development as these could possibly redefine the future of travel and tourism.  These bubbles are also central to revitalising the essential movement of people within APEC.

• Last but not least, we reaffirmed our support for economic and technical cooperation, particularly for our MSMEs, women and vulnerable groups.  We also recognised the need to continue to enhance capacity building and technical assistance to those most impacted by the pandemic.

• Colleagues, this brings us to the end of my Opening Remarks.

• Thank you.