Webinar on “The Asia Pacific Economies: Challenges and Prospects in 2024”

In this webinar, Mr Carlos Kuriyama and Mr Foo Cher How unpacked the outcomes of the recent APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and their implications for the region in 2024.


Friday, 24 November 2023 – The 30th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) was recently held in San Francisco, California. To discuss the major outcomes of the meeting and their implications for the Southeast Asia region in general and Singapore in particular, the Singapore APEC Study Centre at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar featuring Mr Carlos Kuriyama, Director of APEC Policy Support Unit, and Mr Foo Cher How, Deputy Director for the Multilateral Trade Policy Division at the Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore. The webinar also looked at the economic outlook of the APEC region by drawing insights from the November 2023 issue of the APEC Regional Trends Analysis (ARTA), apart from covering Singapore’s perspective.

Clockwise from top left: Dr Cassey Lee (moderator), Mr Carlos Kuriyama and Mr Foo Cher How. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Following a brief introduction by Dr Cassey Lee, Senior Fellow at ISEAS, Mr Kuriyama began his presentation by sharing the 4 key points of the APEC regional trend analysis: 1) improvement in economic growth; 2) persistent inflation; 3) warning that geoeconomics fragmentation and trade protectionism could threaten the future of trade; and 4) the growing challenge of an ageing population. He then focussed on the projected GDP growth for the next few years following the recovery from the pandemic, how and why prices of various commodities have fluctuated over the past year, and how shifting demographics may affect growth. Mr Kuriyama expressed that, although trade is set to rebound with more stable economic growth, factors such as geoeconomics fragmentation may slow it down. He wrapped up the section by asserting that a balanced mix of government policies along with multilateral cooperation is vital for economic recovery.

Next, Mr Kuriyama summarised the outcomes of the recently concluded APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM). The 2023 APEC Leaders’ Golden Gate Declaration includes commitments to necessary reforms in WTO to have a well-functioning dispute settlement mechanism, and the welcoming of the San Francisco Principles on Integrating Inclusivity and Sustainability into Trade and Investment Policy to increase efforts towards inclusivity and sustainability. This reflects the APEC economies’ commitment to taking joint actions to create a resilient and sustainable future for all. The 2023 APEC Ministerial Meeting Statement welcomed the APEC Non-Binding Guidelines on Logistics-related Services that Support the Movement of Essential Goods During a Public Health Emergency to improve logistic-related services.

Furthering the discussion, Mr Foo opened his presentation by remarking on the progress and achievements that APEC have made over the years, with a broadening of agenda that goes beyond just trade to also include digital transformation and sustainability concerns. Having participated in the AELM, he shared his personal views and observations about the event and echoed Mr Kuriyama’s sentiments on its successes, reiterating the importance of having open communications and discussions amongst the economies. He also delved into how Singapore has supported and worked with the United States during the latter’s chairmanship on supply-chain management, trade facilitation and digitalisation within the APEC region. To conclude, Mr Foo gave a synopsis of what would happen under the Peru chairmanship for 2024, including its theme, agenda, policy priorities and key deliverables.

The 90-minute webinar was attended by an audience composed of research scholars, students, policymakers and the general public. The speakers also answered their questions on an array of topics, including the challenges faced by economies in dealing with increasing workload on health related matters especially with an aging population, the effect of geopolitical tensions on economies, how economies intend to cooperate to tackle several issues such as artificial intelligence and persistent inflation, elaborations on the steps APEC member countries intend to take to work with the enhanced WTO dispute mechanism, and the roles that different stakeholders and organisations such as WTO and APEC play in tackling economic challenges.