KUALA LUMPUR: Regional and multilateral trade agreements are critical in driving economic recovery and sustainable growth, as well as providing the foundation for greater cohesion in trade, particularly in pushing for post-crisis growth.
Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali(pix) said as the global trading system is reinvented, legitimate concerns have been raised about whether unbridled trade liberalisation will be achieved at the expense of the weak and marginalised.
“Hence, it (is worth) reiterating that the special safeguards written into these Free Trade Agreements for such entities, as well as indigenous interests, must be honoured not in the breach but in the observance,” he said in his speech at the Third Asia Pacific Initiative Forum 2021 themed “Prioritising innovation as the key to unlocking post-crisis growth”.
Citing a regional concord, namely the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Mohamed Azmin said these agreements are essential in driving economic recovery and sustainable growth as well as providing the building blocks for greater cohesion.
“If we play by the rules – founded on a multilateral trading system that is free, fair and open – then the natural trajectory is for competition within a framework of interdependence.
“The curse of ‘beggar thy neighbour’ must no longer be allowed to see the light of day in as much as ‘shared prosperity for all’ should be our guiding precept. While we must continue to safeguard our own interests, keeping the global system open and inclusive remains paramount to enable countries to grow and prosper in a stable and peaceful world,” he added.
He also emphasised the importance of innovation in the post-pandemic recovery, citing the world’s quantum leap in digital adoption, which has transformed the way digital solutions are embraced and enhanced offerings are created.
“The need for digital multilateralism is just as paramount because digitalisation is the driving force for the present and the future,” he said.
In 2016, the size of the global digital economy was valued at US$11.5 trillion, equivalent to 15.5 per cent of global gross domestic product growth and this is projected to grow further to 24.3 per cent by 2025.-Bernama