Apec summit ends in Bangkok with 3 unexpected joint statements
Thailand's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit 2022 ended on Saturday with three unexpected joint statements that aim to restore commerce and investment in the region.
The traditional joint Leaders' Declaration was accompanied by the Ministerial Joint Statement, as well as the Bangkok Goal Declaration on Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG).
In their declaration, leaders committed to implementing the Apec Putrajaya Vision 2040 agreed last year, under this year’s summit theme of "Open, Connect, Balance".
The official statement said it was important to promote a trade and investment environment that is free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive and predictable.
"This includes fostering an enabling environment for businesses of all types, particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups, and collaborating to improve opportunities for them to be competitive, specialised, innovative, and expand into the international markets," said the statement.
Leaders said they will also cooperate for safe and seamless cross-border travel within the region following the Covid-19 pandemic.
They also highlighted the importance of digital technology and innovation in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.
"We will deepen cooperation to bridge digital divides between and within economies, including facilitating access to digital infrastructure and supporting the development of digital skills and digital literacy. We will cooperate on facilitating the flow of data, and strengthening business and consumer trust in digital transactions," the statement said.
It also revealed divisions within Apec over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Earlier, the traditional group photo of Apec leaders was scrapped amid tensions over Russia’s participation in the summit.
The statement said leaders acknowledged that Apec was not a forum for resolving security issues even though they can have significant global economic consequences.
Russia's war in Ukraine has triggered soaring fuel and food prices.
Meanwhile, all of the Apec leaders pledged to intensify efforts to promote agricultural development, including in rural areas.
Protesters in Bangkok urged Apec delegates to reject the Thai government’s Bio-Circular-Green economic model for the region, claiming it favours big business over poor farmers. Police fired rubber bullets and used baton charges to break up the protests.
In their statement, leaders said they would promote long-term food security by strengthening global food supply chains by making their agricultural and food systems more resilient, productive, innovative, and sustainable.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told press that the 21 members had agreed that Apec was not the place to resolve security issues. The summit was overshadowed on Friday when North Korea tested a suspected nuclear-capable ballistic missile that fell in Japanese waters, prompting US Vice President Kamala Harris to hold an impromptu meeting of allied Apec members.
"We agreed to detach the [security] issue and find another approach to solve economic challenges, the main agenda of the Apec Summit," Prayut said at the closing press conference.
He also handed the ceremonial Apec "chalom" to Harris, as the United States will host the summit in San Francisco next year.
Prayut left the press conference without taking questions and headed to an afternoon meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at Government House.
Apec leaders met in person for the first time in four years for talks on Friday and Saturday at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre in Bangkok.