Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): Sustaining Growth amidst Policy Uncertainty and Trade Tensions

About the Seminar

The 2019 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) theme of “Connecting People, Building the Future” covers four priorities: 1) Digital Society; 2) Integration 4.0; 3) Women, SMEs and Inclusive Growth; and 4) Sustainable Growth. The APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, met in Viña del Mar, Chile, from 17 to 18 May 2019, to discuss issues relating to key regional and global trade and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The APEC Regional Trend Analysis (ARTA) – the flagship publication of the APEC Policy Support Unit – was launched at the margins of the meeting.

The seminar will begin with a discussion of the economic and trade trends in the APEC region. Trade tensions have translated into the imposition of tariffs and counter-measures, which, in turn, have manifested in uneven growth among APEC economies. As the APEC region grapples with a global environment marked by persistent trade tensions and policy uncertainty, sustaining the region’s growth has become a delicate balancing act that requires implementing measures to support continued economic expansion while ensuring that growth remains sustainable and inclusive. The seminar will also examine how APEC has evolved over the past thirty years since its establishment in 1989. It will look back at the founding principles of APEC and review changes in the region during the past three decades.

Importantly, the seminar will examine and discuss the implications of the key outcomes from the APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting. How will this bring APEC forward during APEC Chile 2019? What are some of the challenges expected for the rest of this year and next year?

About the Speakers

Topic: Sustaining APEC Growth: A Delicate Balancing Act

Denis Hew is currently the Director of APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU). In this position, he is responsible for the work program and operations of the PSU, which is the research and analysis arm of APEC.

Before taking up his current appointment, Dr Hew was Regional Cooperation Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), where he managed technical assistance and coordinated efforts on regional cooperation and integration in the Southeast Asia department. From 2001 to 2008, Dr Hew was Senior Fellow and Program Coordinator (Regional Economic Studies) at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He was also for many years the Managing Editor of the ASEAN Economic Bulletin, a leading academic journal that focuses on policy-relevant economic issues in Southeast Asia. Dr Hew has written extensively on regional economic cooperation and integration, especially in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Denis Hew holds a BSc (Hons) in Economics from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom and MSc and PhD in Finance from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

Topic: Reflections on the 25th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting, May 2019

Benjamin Tan is Senior Assistant Director at the Trade Division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in Singapore. At MTI, Benjamin joined the International Trade Cluster starting with a focus on Trade in Goods and Standards-related issues, and moving to the APEC team in 2014. Benjamin was the Convenor of the APEC Market Access Group from 2015 to 2017. Benjamin has been actively involved in several of Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. These include the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). He is currently involved in FTA negotiations between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union and MERCOSUR. Prior to joining MTI, Benjamin was with the private sector, working in China and the Philippines.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 14 June 2019


Jun 17 2019


10:30 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2