APEC: Secretary Yellen opens finance ministers' meeting, calls for collaboration

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen welcomed representatives from the 20 other economies that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

The opening session of the Finance Minister’s meeting comes after Yellen’s bilateral meetings with her counterparts from Australia, Mexico, Indonesia and China. 

"The actions we take matter, not only for our own economies and people, but also for addressing the global challenges the world faces," said Yellen in her opening remarks.

Ahead of the Finance Minister’s meeting, APEC’s policy support unit released a report outlining regional trends and pointing out challenges ahead. Among the hurdles for the region: stubborn inflation, the impacts of climate change, geopolitical tensions and the ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic. "We have global problems, therefore we need global solutions and that’s the key, multilateral cooperation," said Carlos Kuriyama, director of APEC’s policy support unit. 

One of the major issues on the agenda, demographic shifts across the region with populations getting older and birth rates falling. "Over the long term, we have an aging population," said Kuriyama. "Which means we need to have a higher expenditure on healthcare, social security, pensions, also there’s a shrinking workforce." 

Much of the focus remains on the meeting of two global superpowers, when President Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. APEC leaders say a stable economic relationship between the two countries, is a win-win for the region. "The latest numbers are about $758 billion of trading goods and services, the highest level in history between US and China." 

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APEC leaders said they try to put geopolitical issues aside while navigating economic partnerships but the wars in Israel and Ukraine are making that increasingly difficult. Secretary Yellen outlined the Finance Ministers’ goals in hopes of finding consensus. "We need to further improve our long-term economic outlook by boosting labor supply, innovation, and infrastructure investment, in ways that are also sustainable and reduce inequality," said Yellen.