FDC Group CEO Michelle Curry was pleased to attend a roundtable discussion with the newly appointed Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Tan Sri Datuk Rebecca Sta Maria. The APEC Secretariat serves as the advisory body, implementation arm and custodian of institutional memory for the 21 member economies that make up the APEC forum. The former Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Trade and Industry visited Australia as a guest of the Australian Government. She was keen to engage with leaders from the private sector and discuss APEC’s Post 2020 Goals and their implications for business as APEC works to take forward regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific.
Dr Sta Maria presented her views on the challenging geo-political context for APEC and the changing influence of regional actors within APEC. Dr Sta Maria emphasised the need for greater cross-platform collaboration and integration, and particularly in arenas such as women’s economic empowerment, the digital economy, cross-border data flows, non-tariff trade and the future of bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade agreements across the APEC member economies.
FDC has led the Financial Inclusion agenda within the APEC Business Advisory Council since 2010 and maintains the interest and focus on the circa 60% of the population of the APEC member emerging economies who are part of the informal economy, yet who provide significant economic stimulus within these economies through their nano-micro merchant activities and through the volume of trade of such large populations (across Asia alone about 2 billion people). Promoting reforms to institutional frameworks that provide greater opportunity for the informal sector to participate actively in formal economy advantages is key to our work, and our engagement with multi-coalitions of stakeholders in the public, private and civil sectors.
At our annual Asia Pacific Financial Inclusion Forum in Tokyo in September of this year, an initiative of the APEC Finance Ministers, FDC is convening senior government officials and industry experts in a policy dialogue on the gap between informal and formal financial systems and the policy, regulation and enabling frameworks required to close the gap. Leading from Dr Sta Maria’s comments about the work and focus of the APEC Secretariat under her leadership, the recommendations which are created and disseminated to the APEC Finance Ministers, and the relevant government departments of the economies they represent, address the systemic and integrated issues of women, digital inclusion, economic empowerment, micro-merchant digital enablement, data, eKYC / tiered KYC and how these issues intersect on a value chain that drives the opportunity for effective change and tangible interventions and progress.
We look forward to continuing our work with APEC and ABAC and to working with Dr Sta Maria and her team to achieve the required synergies and collaborations that create environments of greater inclusion for all citizens.