His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday morning attended the Retreat Session of the 2018 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, which was held at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

His Majesty was greeted on arrival at APEC Haus by His Excellency The Honourable Peter O'Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea as Chairman of the 2018 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. His Majesty joined His Excellency and other APEC Economic Leaders for a group photograph session.

His Majesty then proceeded to attend the Retreat Session along with other APEC Economic Leaders. The session began with welcoming remarks by His Excellency the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. During the Retreat Session, His Majesty and other APEC leaders discussed issues on cooperation and exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern, as well as on APEC's external relations and its future direction.

His Majesty delivered a titah during the session, in which His Majesty hailed notable albeit irregular improvements in global trade despite today's geopolitical and economic uncertainties. With a view to maintaining such continued economic resilience, His Majesty called on the APEC Economies to work together to increase trade and investment by upholding the principle of multilateralism. Describing the principle as the platform on which APEC was built when His Majesty and other APEC leaders met in 1993, His Majesty said the leaders agreed to uphold the spirit of openness and partnership based on the open multilateral trading system.

His Majesty believed that, to this day, support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) that ensures free, open, transparent and inclusive trade rules remained vital. His Majesty underlined the need for the organization to be strengthened to meet not just current but also future challenges. His Majesty cited the need to address new and complex issues brought about by the development in technology especially as economies look towards the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

His Majesty, in the titah, said APEC should continue to provide its leadership in demonstrating that economic integration benefits the people and businesses.

His Majesty further said APEC had, over the years, also proved to be successful in implementing some of the new areas of the WTO, adding that APEC's principles of non-binding and voluntarism had created the environment for its members to advance those new initiatives. Cooperation between its economies in structural reform, including on the Ease of Doing Business, had also helped APEC close its development gaps.

His Majesty thereby called on the APEC Economies to continue based on these principles and intensify their efforts towards achieving the Bogor Goals. Nevertheless, APEC needed to ensure that its focus remained relevant in order to address any challenges that could arise in the future. His Majesty said this was pertinent so that the economies could take strategic steps in unlocking their full potential in the digital era.

In reference to certain sectors and global value chains already being affected by technology disruptions; small businesses struggling to compete; and fewer employment opportunities in traditional fields of work, His Majesty urged APEC to continue with reforms to assist those who were left behind with initiatives that were inclusive and sustainable.

On APEC's future direction, His Majesty underlined the importance of ensuring that the Post-2020 Vision would be bold yet pragmatic like the Bogor Goals in 1994; and of preparing the youth with the right skills for new jobs by improving education and training policies. The APEC Economies also needed to provide and facilitate adequate infrastructure for businesses to flourish in cross-border e-commerce.

In that regard, His Majesty said Brunei Darussalam welcomed the APEC Action Agenda on the Digital Economy in order to carry out the Roadmap that the leaders endorsed in 2017.

In ending the titah, His Majesty called on APEC to continue to work on the basis of its key principles as it looks beyond the Bogor Goals, adding that its economies had achieved so much along the way and could accomplish even more if they built on their strength through APEC's pillar of economic and technical cooperation. The Retreat Session carried the theme, "Connecting for Inclusive Growth Through Digital Future."

Source: Radio Television Brunei