APEC Should Open Doors to OBOR Opportunities

Chu Kar-kin

As scheduled, Malaysia would be hosting the APEC in November this year. This is encouraging despite the uncertainty as COVID-19 pandemic has returned to some Asian countries going by the name second wave or maybe even third. The theme for APEC 2020 is “Optimising Human Potential Towards a Future of Shared Prosperity”. In brief, Malaysia, the host country, would focus on bringing APEC closer to the people with an aim to create a balanced and fair cooperation among economies, which is towards a more inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. The objective is clear and achievable. A fair collaboration amongst the membership countries and is expected whilst a fair collaboration with non-membership countries are foreseeable and desirable. All players and stakeholders participate in a fair game to achieve sustainability.

Apart from fair play and sustainability, two key elements of the year are, respectively, “Shared Prosperity” and “Human Capital”. Malaysia targets to seek a balance between the developing and developed economy through fair and genuine cooperation for a more inclusive development in the region. Regional integration and economic cooperation may accelerate developing economies by leveraging the dynamism of the more advanced, developed countries. The Belt and Road Initiatives may also integrate and cooperate with APEC countries by exploring mutually beneficial opportunities. Initiated by China in 2014, the Belt and Road Initiatives (sometimes known as the One Belt One Road (“OBOR”)) is an alliance of countries bringing together goods and services in accordance with membership countries’ strength. The shared prosperity pool talents and resources from different sectors, in exchange of the hosted country’s other development. The genuine cooperation speeds up the modernisation of developing economies and making further advancement to the established, developed countries. The potential collaboration may cross most industries, say from energy to infrastructure, from supply chain to Greentech, from logistics management to maritime and aviation. The fusion, combination and cross-over of the various industries in the Belt and Road Initiatives may enhance the sustainability and also cope with the APEC’s theme.

The current membership states include countries from various regions, including the East Asia, South-East Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, East Europe, Western Europe, Africa, etc. The list of membership expands continuously as new recruits join the OBOR alliance via input and participation at different stages. APEC should open door to OBOR and even consider formal joint partnership with OBOR to achieve a win-win situation. In fact, some countries have dual membership of both APEC and OBOR; opening themselves to opportunities and wealth.

APEC shares innovative values and likewise, OBOR drives creative and sustainability.  Both APEC and OBOR have similar visions such as the inclusive economic participation through digital economy and technology, as well as the improvement of the narrative of trade and investment. The relationship of APEC and OBOR should be a form of allies, forming formal and informal ties and connections. The two international giants may also ink joint-MOU for collaborations.

The 21st Century is a period when a formula of inclusive economic participation is worked out through cooperation. This is not surprising, and synergy benefits all parties. We look forward to hearing the leadership of both the APEC and OBOR to reach amicable and meaningful collaborations.


**The facts and views expressed are solely that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the editorial board