An App for That? APEC Looks to Blunt Trade Protectionism

Pacific Rim nations to hold app contest during ministers meeting.
Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Amid fears that trade barriers are going to increase, the largest bloc of Pacific Rim nations has come up with an idea to stem the protectionist tide: create an app.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members are planning to hold a 24-hour competition to design the app among 11 teams of software and web developers as a way to enliven proceedings of trade officials to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 18-19.

The 21-nation group pledged in November to reject protectionism and tackle the slowdown in trade growth by expanding economic integration and continuing work to set up a free-trade area in the Asia-Pacific region, based on existing pacts and others.

 That’s a tall order after the Trump administration abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have been the biggest trade pact in history.


The competing teams are being called to build a “new mobile or web solution to one or more key challenges faced by medium, small, and micro enterprise owners who are interested in expanding their businesses through cross-border trade,” APEC said in a release.

The contest’s organizers said SMEs, which account for roughly 98 percent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the region’s workforce, are a particular focus because online communications may help them reach customers and markets that were traditionally out of reach.

All employers need to do is download the app.




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