Malaysian PM: APEC to continue promoting multilateral trade

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks at a CEO Dialogue forum via video link, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 19, 2020.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin made the opening keynote speech at the 2020 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Dialogues 2020 on Thursday, laying out the theme of this year's meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

APEC economies comprise approximately 60 percent of the global GDP, half of the world's global trade and 40 percent of the world's population. Under the theme "APEC Re-Imagined: Priorities in the Aftermath of COVID-19," Prime Minister Muhyuddin stressed that countries and regional stackholders must cooperate and reaffirmed the commitment to a multilateral trading system in the wake of the pandemic.

Hosted by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) - Malaysia, this meeting is the first time economic leaders from APEC's 21 member economies have met virtually. While this was done due to the pandemic, Dato' Rohana Mahmood, chair of ABAC 2020, pointed out that online meetings can cut the carbon emissions associated with international conferences like APEC.

"This year has been more disruptive, difficult, uncertain and challenging than most people could have imagined. Global trade and investment can lead to economic recovery and resilience to future crises," said Dato' Rohana Mahmood.

Myhyuddin also stressed the importance of boosting the digital economy as countries are fighting their way out of the economic downturn and trying to balance their health priorities with economic development. Technological innovation can be the engine of the economic development, creating job opportunities, and enhancing regional recovery.

Towards the end of his keynote speech, Muhyiddin also stressed the significance of achieving inclusive economic growth which assures no one is left behind, especially women and youths. "The economy will grow significantly if the barrier is removed or minimized for women," Muhyiddin said

Echoing the theme of the APEC CEO Dialogues, "APEC Re-imagined," the prime minister also urged APEC leaders, global CEOs and visionary entrepreneurs to put more emphasis on youth development, as they "embody our imagination about the future of the world."