Senior Officials from the 21 APEC member economies have convened in Lima to develop new measures for delivering higher quality growth. They are intent on improving social mobility and living standards for people on both sides of the Pacific needed to mitigate deepening uncertainty affecting the region.

The meeting of Senior Officials is the first during Peru’s year as APEC Chair in 2016. Taking place on Thursday and Friday, it marks an important step towards implementing the region’s vision for “Quality Growth and Human Development.” Actions on the table are focused on boosting regional economic integration and quality growth, the regional food market, micro, small and medium enterprise modernization and labor productivity. It builds on exchanges between technical officials here over the preceding two weeks.

Ambassador Luis Quesada, 2016 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials, set the tone for the proceedings by describing the impact global headwinds are having on economies across the Asia-Pacific and steps APEC members are taking to navigate changing economic and social conditions.

“We are facing many challenges and the slowdown in the world economy is one of the biggest,” explained Ambassador Quesada. “APEC has proven its value in the past by fostering more open, integrated economies and growth in the region during difficult times. Working together, we can do so again now and for the years to come.”

APEC economies are drafting the collective strategic study on issues related to the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP. It aims to pinpoint how undertakings like the Pacific Alliance, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Trans Pacific Partnership could lead to an APEC-wide agreement for harnessing new trade and growth opportunities.

Parallel emphasis is on facilitating investment and infrastructure development that supports food supply chains, helping Peru and other agriculturally rich APEC economies export to the increasing numbers of middle class consumers in the region, as well as harmonizing their regulations and standards to strengthen food safety.

“Peru and fellow APEC economies are laying a foundation for higher quality growth among us supported by the opening of trade and economic opportunities,” said Ambassador Quesada. “Empowering people and businesses of all sizes to take advantage of greater interconnectedness in the Asia-Pacific is critical to improving productivity and living conditions that will shape the future of the region’s economies.”

Senior Officials are advancing new measures to promote regulatory reform and the application of digital tools that make it easier for people in APEC economies to start and grow a business, and to do business across borders. They are also maneuvering to make it easier, cheaper and faster for people and goods to move throughout the region, including support for smarter immigration and customs procedures.

Concurrent focus is on ensuring healthy, productive workforces through the introduction of policies that spur innovation within the sector while improving access to healthcare and controls against emerging health threats such as the Zika virus. Senior officials are moreover taking steps to facilitate cross-border exchanges of students and academics as well as career skills development and digital literacy to bolster people’s job prospects and social mobility in a globalized marketplace.