Webinar on “Uncertainty Tests APEC’s Resilience amid COVID-19, and Pivoting to a Circular Economy”

In this webinar, Dr Denis Hew and Ms Satvinderjit Kaur Singh discussed findings from the latest APEC Regional Trends Analysis (ARTA)—the flagship publication of the APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU), and also discussed the ARTA theme chapter on the Circular Economy.


Wednesday, 15 July 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar on “Uncertainty Tests APEC’s Resilience amid COVID-19”, and “What goes around comes around: Pivoting to a Circular Economy”, delivered by Dr Denis Hew (Director of the APEC Policy Unit at the Singapore APEC Studies Centre) and Ms Satvinderjit Kaur Singh (Researcher in the APEC Policy Unit at the Singapore APEC Studies Centre) respectively.

Dr Denis Hew and Ms Satvinderjit Kaur Singh, representatives from the Policy Support Unit of APEC Secretariat, discussed findings from the latest ARTA report released in May. Dr Siwage Dharma Negara moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Denis started his presentation with APEC’s 2020 GDP Growth Projections, where deeper contractions are predicted due to  COVID-19.  He attributed this to travel restrictions and the widespread lockdown measures for grounding economic activity to a near halt. However, he added that a lower GDP growth was already predicted before the onset of COVID-19. This is due to a lacklustre economic activity in 2019 driven by persistent trade and technology tensions.

While trade, investments and consumption are expected to slow down in the near-term, Dr Hew opined that a  positive turnaround in trade growth could happen in 2021 and a rebound for FDI could begin in 2022, depending on the pace of economic recovery and the direction of fiscal, monetary and trade policies. Additionally, he commended APEC economies’ initiatives to preserve lives and protect livelihoodsamid the pandemic. Such initiatives include enhancing healthcare capacity, providing direct financial assistance and relief packages to households and workers, mitigating the impact on affected industries for businesses and allocating funds to support MSMEs.

Next, Ms Satvinderjit began her discussion on transitioning into a circular economy by explaining the burgeoning waste crisis. She shared statistics that depict APEC economies being responsible for a significant share of global solid waste, and how more than half of this waste is mismanaged. Hence, she proposed a circular economy model that enabled waste minimisation and resource optimisation through reuse, repurposing and recycling. She added that it presents opportunities even in the midst of cOVID-19 such as sharing platforms, circular supplies, product as a service, product life extension and resource recovery. Additionally, she stressed the need for scale and specialisation for a circular economy to be efficient, as well as all stakeholders along the chain to embrace circular practices in order for there to be interconnectedness between global supply chains. She ended her presentation by suggesting that recovery plans from the pandemic should also focus on building environmental sustainability whilst reviving economic output.

Lastly, the seminar concluded with Dr Denis and Ms Satvinderjit engaging in a question and answer session. Some questions asked were the impact of creating a circular economy on investment and APEC’s role in facilitating the transition, whether APEC members will be able to sustain their fiscal stimulus in the future, and possible policy options that should be considered.

Over 60 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)