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Singapore businesses urge Apec economies to resist protectionism
THE Singapore Business Federation (SBF) said on Thursday it supports the calls of the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to resist protectionism and inward-looking policies, as "open and inclusive global trading system can act as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth".
Persistent slow growth in the global economy and rising inequality have led to an increasing backlash against globalisation, immigration and free trade, noted SBF.
It said the challenge for political and business leaders is to design and put in place policies to ensure that their people can benefit from globalisation and integration, including expanding education and work training programmes, as well as strengthening social safety nets.
SS Teo, chairman of SBF, said: "Faced with immediate challenges of weak economic activities and growing economic anxiety within their populace, it is easy to forget how the forces of globalisation have for the larger part of postwar economic history, lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and powered growth across the Asia-Pacific."
However, to realise long-term growth, there is no substitute for expanding trade and investment, he said, adding that "making concrete steps towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific must remain the priority of Apec economies".
SBF's statement came after ABAC stressed that protectionism and inward-looking policies will not solve the Asia-Pacific's economic challenges.
Members of ABAC had gathered for a review of 2016 ahead of the Apec Leaders' Meeting held on Nov 19-20 in Lima, Peru.
The meeting was the fourth and last for the year, where SBF represented the Singapore business community.