APEC leaders tackle terrorism, development issues in official declaration

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APEC economic leaders

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Although the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s theme this year focused on inclusive economic growth, the organization’s 21 member economies began their annual joint declaration post-Economic Leaders’ Meeting with a strong condemnation of terrorism.

This comes in the wake of terrorist attacks allegedly carried out by terror group ISIS. The joint declaration mentioned the downing of a Russian aircraft over the Sinai Peninsula and terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut.

Although APEC discussions generally revolve around on economic and trade relations, the leaders pointed out that economic growth and human security are not mutually exclusive.

“Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization.”

“We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism,” they added.

Nevertheless, economic and development issues were thoroughly discussed in the declaration.

“We recognize the significance of enabling the full participation of all sectors and segments of our society, especially women, youth, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, low-income groups, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to achieving inclusive growth."

They affirmed support for the multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, and hoped for the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) by 2020.

The leaders “collectively” made nine commitments in the declaration. Each commitment forms a section of the declaration:

  1. "To support comprehensive and ambitious structural reforms; achieve positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes; and promote good governance.”
  2. "To deepen our financial markets and mitigate risks.”
  3. "To foster an enabling trading environment that is responsive to new ways in which goods and services are produced and delivered and that promotes inclusiveness, especially for MSMEs.”
  4. "To build sustainable and disaster-resilient economies.”
  5. "To make urbanization work for growth.”
  6. "To redouble our efforts to empower our people with the tools to benefit from and participate in economic growth.”
  7. "To achieve our vision for an integrated community in a comprehensive and systematic manner.”
  8. "To develop the services sector as an enabler of economic growth and inclusion.”
  9. "To work with stakeholders to address common challenges.”

These commitments, however, are not legally-binding as decisions in APEC are voluntary. Likewise, the commitments face the challenge of APEC’s economic and geographic diversity. APEC’s 21 members range from developing to developed economies spanning four different continents.