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As I write this end of year briefing, I am harshly reminded we still have covid to contend with after 3 years of the pandemic, as unfortunately I am in mandatory isolation in my apartment listed as a close contact, devoid of human interaction apart from my own family, until my release on Christmas Day at least.

PBEC is looking forward to welcoming members at a couple of face to face luncheons being organised in January as all restrictions for overseas arrivals and large group activities have been removed, a sure sign Hong Kong SAR is open for reconnecting with the rest of the world.

Open for Business?

I wish this sense of openness was universal by now, 3 years into this pandemic. Some regional economies are still struggling however whilst others are unfortunately retreating from world trade engagement and looking more inwards.

Whilst some more established WTO members are refusing to recognise panel decisions and blocking the appointment of new panel judges rendering the effective dispute settlement unworkable if allowed to continue. Finding innovative ways to subsidise and protect local industries when the rules clearly prohibit this, are in no-one’s broader interest.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Global trade however tends not to stand still, despite its many challenges over recent years. Technological adoption in logistics & supply chains has accelerated more than in any other period.

In 2022 a rare & positive outcome was achieved at the WTO Ministerial in June and the APEC Summit was able to be held again in person for the first time since 2018 – APEC even managed to release a consensus statement!

CPTPP continues to attract new interest from economies around the world whilst RCEP, the world’s largest FTA, is now also in effect for thirteen out of fifteen signatories.

Starting Afresh

As we round out the end of the year, the US has held a first round of negotiations for an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). PBEC remains sceptical about what can be achieved without some market access being on the table, but if there is some good in IPEF, like in trade facilitation, we are sure negotiators will find it.  The US is also hosting APEC in 2023 for which they have our full support.

I have enjoyed the many topical dialogues we have hosted throughout 2022, an opportunity for us to constantly learn and evolve from them. One particular highlight was interacting with an AI- being called Zbee during our Annual event which you can catch all our sessions on our official YouTube channel over the festive period, if like me, you find yourself isolated for a few days. I hope you have enjoyed our many insights too into the world of trade & connectivity during 2022. PBEC after all, always advocates for an open and fair trade system under the rule of law, across APAC.

I extend our best wishes for the holiday season and for a fully reconnected and trade-filled year in 2023!

Michael Walsh PBEC CEO &

Meet & learn more about Zbee here:

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