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APEC Senior Officials Embrace The Journey Of Empowerment, Inclusion And Growth

Meeting in Arequipa, a UNESCO world heritage site, senior officials from APEC member economies are breaking new ground by empowering vulnerable populations and fostering greater economic inclusion across the region.

“Our overarching theme of “Empower. Include. Grow” calls for better integration of the inclusivity pillar in APEC’s core agenda,” said Ambassador Carlos Vasquez, the 2024 Chair of APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting. “Although APEC has seen a significant amount of progress in this area, there is still a lot of work to do if we want to make our work more relevant for a huge segment of society.”

“This collective endeavor has begun to yield results sooner than expected, with the recent adoption of the Arequipa Goals, a significant milestone in our journey towards empowerment, inclusion, and growth within the APEC community,” Ambassador Vasquez continued.

The Arequipa Goals, adopted at the Human Resources Development Working Group’s meeting earlier this month, aim to advance impactful progress through policies that empower people with disabilities for sustainable and inclusive growth. It closely aligns with Peru’s overarching theme of APEC 2024 as these goals reaffirm APEC's commitment to promoting equality and inclusion, particularly for people with disabilities.

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“Ninety percent of people with disabilities are in the informal sector and 50 percent of them don’t receive basic education. Capacity building and education goals are key elements already adopted in our 2024 deliverables,” explained Ambassador Vasquez.

Meeting against the backdrop of looming uncertainties stemming from trade protectionism, persistent inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions, senior officials directed their focus towards addressing these challenges head on.

“From trade and investment facilitation to harnessing the transformative power of innovation and digitalization, and from advancing sustainable development to ensuring resilient growth, our agenda reflects a holistic approach to fostering inclusive and sustainable economic progress,” Ambassador Vasquez added.

Addressing informality is high on the agenda with Peru as the host of APEC 2024 putting forward a roadmap that promotes the transition to formal and global economy through capacity building and skill development.

“In the past when we talk about inclusion, we talked about including those who have been part of our formal sector and economic structure such as micro, small and medium enterprises and women entrepreneurs, among others,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.

“Now, we are looking beyond that—there are parts of society that are not included in the formal economy but they are contributing to economic growth. So if we want to really be inclusive, we need to find a way of bringing these informal actors into the formal sector,” Dr Sta Maria added.

The Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting concludes on Thursday. It sets the tone for the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Arequipa on 17-18 May to push forward greater inclusivity through trade in the region.

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