Asia Foundation and APEC Committed to Promoting Regional Economic Cooperation

San Francisco, January 9, 2020 — Stronger cooperation is essential for APEC as economies address inequality, environmental health, and the digital economy—the region’s critical challenges—said APEC Secretariat Executive Director Rebecca Sta Maria during a visit to the United States to bolster collaboration with The Asia Foundation and the tech community.

“The biggest challenges of our lifetime—inequality, environmental health, and the digital economy—are interconnected. When harnessed responsibly, digitalization can help level the playing field for small businesses and traditionally marginalized groups,” said Dr. Sta Maria in San Francisco. “To prepare the right policy responses, economies gain from collaboration with each other and the private sector when they share best practices,” she added.

Recently, The Asia Foundation and Google supported the APEC Digital Prosperity Award highlighting talented “techpreneurs.” At the 2019 APEC summit in Chile, a duo of women software programmers from Malaysia received the top prize. Both the award and the APEC App Challenge aim to empower people and broaden opportunities for small firms, which account for some 95 percent of the region’s businesses.

“Small businesses drive economies across the region. The Asia Foundation looks forward to continuing our collaboration with APEC to open up the world for the region’s entrepreneurs and achieve more inclusive growth,” said David Arnold, president and CEO of The Asia Foundation.

Along with The Asia Foundation, APEC also consulted organizations including LinkedIn, the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the Economic Institute of the Bay Area. 

One recurring topic was the urgent need to “upskill” APEC economies for a digital future and reduce the gender gap in the tech sector. Across APEC, women account for only 20 percent of professionals in the artificial intelligence sector, even as it becomes more prominent across non-tech industries.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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Related locations: San Francisco
Related programs: International Cooperation, Technology & Development
Related topics: APEC

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