Friday, April 26, 2019
Mathias Francke, APEC Chile 2019 SOM Chair: "It is important that regions outside of Santiago showcase themselves to the Asia-Pacific region"
APEC Chile 2019 will move to the Valparaíso Region from May 2 through May 18. Viña del Mar will be the first city to host a meeting outside of Santiago, and it will do so by receiving the Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and related meetings and the Meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT).
Chile’s “Garden City” will thus welcome delegates from the 21 APEC member economies to an event that will include over 60 meetings and will address priority issues for regional integration and international trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
With the start of the event just a few days away, SOM Chair Mathias Francke spoke about the progress with the preparations, revealed some of the key points of the two weeks of meetings and highlighted the importance of holding APEC discussions in cities outside of Santiago.
How are the preparations for SOM2 going?
They are coming along well. We are working on the final logistical details. The fact that it will take place in the Valparaíso Region certainly makes things more complex, but the teams are ready.
In terms of content, we are working on the SOM meeting agenda and of course on that of the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT), which will be presided over by Foreign Affairs Minister Roberto Ampuero. This event represents an important challenge because we will have the ministers from the 21 economies discussing priority issues for regional integration and international trade in the APEC region.
What are some of the most important issues that you will discuss during SOM2?
The most important issues to be discussed include the work of the women’s group, the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE), which is presided over by Women and Gender Equity Undersecretary Carolina Cuevas. This will be a good opportunity for Chile to continue to make progress with its initiative in this area and especially the roadmap that we plan to publish at the end of the year.
We also have a full week of meetings on tourism and human development. I believe that those issues are important for the APEC 2019 agenda.
There will also be a special meeting of the Digital Economy Steering Group (DESG). With regard to the Sustainable Growth priority, the Fisheries Undersecretary will host a breakfast for the Senior Officials to present the ideas that Chile has about ocean conservation.
What are the expectations for SOM2?
We have high expectations, as we always do. We hope to continue to work on the issue of Women, on the roadmap, and to make progress on aspects related to the Integration 4.0 initiatives, particularly in regard to global value chains.
What can we expect from the ministerial meeting?
The ministerial meeting is one of the most important meetings on the APEC annual calendar. We expect the majority of the ministers responsible for trade to attend.
The major issues to be discussed are the evolution of trade in the region and how to work towards regional integration in order to continue to make progress in this area.
Another important issue is how APEC will continue to contribute to the strong growth of the Multilateral Trade System. We want to have a strong statement from the ministers on this topic, mainly in regard to specific types of support from APEC in this area.
What other types of activities will take place during SOM2?
We will host the Chilean Village again. This was a successful experience held during SOM1 in Santiago where small- and medium-sized enterprises from the Valparaíso Region will be able to showcase their products to the delegates who will come to Viña del Mar during the two weeks of meetings.
The App Challenge sponsored by Google with the support of the Asia Foundation invites participants to use their software development and design skills to connect female entrepreneurs across the region to investment, skills, and people by helping women expand their knowledge of business best practices and connect with investors and mentors. Innovative young people from APEC economies will take part in it, and the application will be developed in Viña del Mar.
Another one of the activities is the schedule of meetings that are open to the public. We will have a calendar called APEC Citizen, and we will hold public events throughout the week organized in partnership with universities and regional chambers of commerce on gender, global value chains, mathematics and other topics. The goal is for the public to understand what is discussed at APEC, which things are interesting and how people can contribute to the processes.
What is the importance of holding such a large event outside of Santiago and specifically in Viña del Mar?
This is the first meeting of the year that will be held outside of the capital. This is part of the strategy of moving APEC away from Santiago, showing the delegates our cities and our cultural, culinary, tourism-related and geographic diversity. But it is also important that the regions outside of Santiago showcase themselves to the Asia-Pacific region. The region of Valparaíso has accepted that challenge and I believe that this process will result in a successful SOM2.