Seminar: APEC Regional Integration and Connectivity in an Era of Populist Policies


About the Seminar

In a somber mood of anti-globalisation, Leaders of 21 APEC economies concluded the 2016 APEC Summit by emphasizing the need for greater regional economic integration. Commitments to work collectively on regional initiatives were also reaffirmed, to promote mutually beneficial economic integration by improving connectivity, including further efforts to liberalize trade and investment.  APEC economies will also continue to encourage structural adjustment and policies to deliver a better, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the future.

The year 2017 started with a big blow to regional economic integration, as the US administration decided to withdraw from the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP). While there were discussions of a trade slowdown and rising protectionist tendencies, there are also deliberations that international trade has not benefitted all in society. Greater consideration needs to be given to the distribution of the gains arising from liberalization policies. Communication needs to be strengthened to develop a shared understanding on regional integration, economic growth and the prospects of better well-being.

It is in this setting that the trade ministers from the 21 APEC member economies met in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 20-21 May 2017. They discussed initiatives around freer Asia-Pacific trade that unleashes the advantages of globalization, while concurrently safeguarding people’s welfare that have been affected in the past. The Singapore APEC Study Centre, leveraging on the discussion of the meetings, will convene a seminar that will bring together policy-makers and experts to discuss three key aspects of APEC activities: a) policy discussion on services sector liberalization and APEC post-2020 Bogor goals; b) outlook on globalization and APEC economies and c) ideas and issues to strengthen connectivity across APEC economies.

About the Speakers

Ms Chan Kah Mei, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore


The speaker will provide the highlights of the APEC trade ministers’ meetings in Hanoi, with particular emphasis on services sector liberalization, ideas for post-2020 Bogor goals and e-commerce. She will also touch upon the anti-globalisation sentiments (or not) in the officials’ meeting and will share insights on ways to communicate better on economic integration.

Chan Kah Mei is the Deputy Director at the Trade Division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore. She heads the teams on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Services and E-commerce. Prior to this, Ms Chan held portfolios in the South Asia and Middle East departments and was posted to the Singapore High Commission in New Delhi as Counsellor (Economics) from May 2011 to 2014.

Ms Chan started her career as a broadcast journalist at Mediacorp Radio in Singapore. She later spent time at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (now known as ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) as a research associate.
Ms Chan joined the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2007 where she was in charge of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and bilateral economic relations between Singapore and India.

Ms Chan obtained a Masters of Science (Politics), First Class, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London under the Dato Tan Cheng Lock Scholarship from the Institute of South East Asian Studies in 2004.

Dr Denis Hew, Policy Support Unit, APEC Secretariat, Singapore


The speaker will provide an account of economic performance and outlook of APEC economies. He will highlight economic trends that need to be tracked to understand the risks to globalization. What are the implications of these risks to the Asia-Pacific region? As trade ministers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries are likely to meet on the sidelines of the APEC meetings, the speaker will also share his views on the prospects of the agreement.

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 Programme Coordinator (Regional Economic Studies) at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (now known as 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 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.

Dr Andrew Elek, Australian National University


The speaker will look into the ideas and issues of APEC Connectivity Blueprint 2015-2025. He will discuss options for financing physical infrastructure under APEC connectivity and possibility of leveraging on China’s initiative of Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The speaker will also consider hoe APEC can continue to promote  people-to-people connectivity,  (for example by. covering issues of tourism, education, business travel) at a time of rising anti-immigration sentiments.

Andrew Elek is a Visiting Research Fellow of the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University (ANU) and a member of the Australian Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee (AUSPECC).

Dr Elek has worked extensively in development economics in South Asia and the South Pacific, and as a Senior Economist with the World Bank. From 1985 to 1987, he served as Chief Economist in the Economic Planning Advisory Council of the Australian Government.  From 1987 to 1990, he was head of the Economic and Trade Development Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In 1989, he was the inaugural chairman of APEC Senior Officials, with a central role in the establishment of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process.  From 1990 to 1994 he was a Senior Research Fellow at the ANU.

Dr Elek has published many papers on international economics and economic cooperation, including the APEC process and, more recently, the G20 and the Belt and Road initiative launched recently by China.  The main topics covered recently can be seen at


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 31 May 2017.


Jun 01 2017


10:00 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2