Trade Raises Living Standards in APEC Region: Report

Living standards have improved across the 21 APEC member economies on the back of trade-driven economic and social development, according to a new report. But further progress in the world’s most populous region will hinge on efforts to compensate for ebbing trade growth.
The APEC Policy Support Unit report points to gains in health, education and economic opportunities in APEC economies over the last quarter century, facilitated by their market integration and lowering of barriers to cross-border movement of people, trade and investment.
The report provides an analysis of the UNDP’s Human Development Index which measures people’s health and lifespans, knowledge levels, and standards of living in economies globally. It reveals improvements in all APEC economies which account for 3 billion people or 40 per cent of the world’s population.
APEC economies attained an average score of 0.80 in the latest Human Development Index, released in 2015, out of a maximum of 1 and minimum of 0. This is up from 0.69 in 1990—the year after they came together to form APEC to boost regional growth and prosperity via greater interconnectivity.
However, the region’s multi-year contraction in trade, undermined by continued uncertainty in the global economy, presents risks to continued progress in improving living standards.
Policies that open up cross-border education and career training; micro, small, and medium enterprise participation in regional supply chains; and women’s entrepreneurship are among the areas of increasing focus in APEC’s agenda to fuel quality growth and human development.
New measures will be taken forward when Trade Ministers from APEC economies convene on 17-18 May in Arequipa, Peru.
Press-release at the official APEC web-site