Next month business leaders and government officials from Latin America and beyond will gather in Chile for APEC 2019, a series of high-level meetings culminating with a summit attended by leaders from the 21-member cooperation forum.
Among the events taking place is the MSME and Entrepreneurship Summit, which the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) is hosting. Representatives from around 800 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will gather to share knowledge, build skills and develop business relationships.
Ahead of the MSME event – which will also include the launch of a B2B marketplace, MondeB2B, geared to players within this business ecosystem – BNamericas spoke to Richard Von Appen, chairman of ABAC for 2019. Von Appen, who is also chairman of Chilean logistics company Ultramar, talks about trade tensions, business opportunities and more.
ABAC comprises up to three members of the private sector from each APEC economy as well as a number of alternate members. For 2019, ABAC has adopted the theme “Inclusive and collaborative growth in the digital era.”
APEC 2019 takes place in Santiago, Chile, November 11-17, 2019. ABAC will also host its own meeting November 11-13. BNamericas is sponsor of the APEC CEO Summit, taking place from November 14-16.
BNamericas: What are the main objectives or goals of ABAC at APEC 2019?
Von Appen: Given the current state of international trade and the tensions, [an objective] is that we reinforce [the message] that trade is very relevant to change and to help people to prosper in different parts of the world, especially in the APEC economies, and especially when we’re talking about SMEs and women.
The other very important task is dialogue. This is a great opportunity for leaders to sit down and discuss common challenges and for us, as the private sector, to voice the concerns of our customers, our employees, the communities we work in which see the trade conflict as a threat affecting the lives of millions of people around the world.
BNamericas: Chile, host of APEC 2019, is already being affected by the fallout from the US-China trade spat. How concerned is ABAC about tensions and what can it do to mitigate the effects?
Von Appen: We’re very concerned because, month by month, the figures are getting worse. So, this is affecting international trade with the consequences I have mentioned. How many people will be affected? We’re talking about millions, especially humble and less fortunate people not only from the APEC economies but also from the rest of the world.
Again, what we can do is stress the benefits of trade, especially when we’re talking about SMEs and women, which is a priority I would say for all our leaders, and to speak as one voice. When the private sector of 21 economies speaks in a common language that is a strong voice.
We’re not getting into politics here, but the fact is that we’re all in agreement that what’s happening is not good. It’s not good for the world economy, it’s not good for the people.