Pandemic forces APEC economies to change narrative in doing business, investment

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2  — Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a devastating impact on the economy, it also provides an opportunity for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies to leverage the present narrative in doing business and investment on a renewed trajectory.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) deputy secretary general (investment) Datuk Bahria Mohd Tamil said the pandemic has challenged all stakeholders to think more deeply about the role the business and investment communities play in society, environment and the future design of policy-making that takes into account the needs for responsible and inclusive business model.

“Malaysia is of the view that there is already an enormous public policy opportunity for the APEC to put forward bold Inclusive and Responsible Business and Investment (IRBI) strategies at the heart of their post-2020 and post-coronavirus plans,” she said.

In her opening remarks at the APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Inclusive and Responsible Business and Investment here, today, Bahria said the past few decades had shown more businesses and investment institutions taking progressive steps in venturing into new business model that embraces the principles of IRBI.

“Likewise, there is a growing interest among businesses and investment institutions in embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (and include them) in their business’ DNA,” she said.

In fact, the SDGs had created US$12 trillion (US$1=RM4.15) in market opportunities in many economic sectors, including food and agriculture, cities, energy, and health and well-being, she said, quoting the Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s data in 2017.

Today’s dialogue, she said, discussed the nexus between the global commitment in realising SDGs and the growing interest among the APEC economies and businesses on the importance of the environmental protection, promoting good social values and corporate governance – or commonly known as the ESG pillars.

“These ESGs, SDGs or our own vernacular IRBI factors have proven to contribute an important role in predicting financial returns, hence they should not be ignored when considering an investment decision,” Bahria said.