Political leaders put climate and technology in the spotlight

(Bloomberg) – World leaders descended on Bangkok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, the latest of the region’s three major summits, where discussions ranged from climate change to the war in Ukraine to food inflation.

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha opened the proceedings Thursday morning with a speech at the CEO Summit, kicking off three days of talks focused on promoting economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech and then proceed with face-to-face meetings with several leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

There will be at least one notable absence from the Bangkok meetings. US President Joe Biden returns to the White House for his granddaughter’s wedding on Saturday and will be represented at APEC by Vice President Kamala Harris.

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(All local times)

Police outperform protesters (12:30 p.m.)

A small group of protesters gathered in the Asok area, near the convention center where the APEC leaders’ meeting is to be held. Some dressed up in dinosaur costumes in a symbolic dig at what they see as Thailand’s antiquated and calcified government.

A protester told the gathering they would march to the convention center to show world leaders how the Thai government has failed to address long-standing economic and social problems. The demonstrations are taking place amid large police presences, and the Bangkok Post reports that more than 35,000 security guards have been deployed for the summit.

Vietnam President Bats for Green Technology (11:30 am)

The world is changing in “complex and unpredictable ways” and technologies targeting net-zero emissions will be the “strongest driver of foreign direct investment” going forward, Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the APEC-CE Summit at a trade and investment session.

Many Vietnamese factories have reduced or even closed production due to supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic and the Ukraine war, Phuc said. The Covid-19 pandemic shows the “importance and indispensability of digital-based business and production,” he said.

Macron open to submarine cooperation with Australia (11:10 am)

French President Emmanuel Macron said his government is still open to reconsidering a submarine deal with Australia. The option for Australia to build jointly or buy French-made submarines remained “on the table”, although there has not yet been any indication from Canberra that it wants to reconsider the deal, he told a news conference in Bangkok.

Macron met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday evening on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali. While the French President admitted to having discussed the issue, Australians “have not yet decided to change their strategy on the issue”.

President of the Philippines urges more climate protection (10:20 a.m.)

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called for stronger action on climate change, which he described as the “most pressing existential” problem of all time. He said at the APEC CEO summit that in fact “not enough” progress had been made in cutting emissions.

Marcos also urged nations to prioritize food security and invest in pandemic preparedness. He also said, “The geopolitical currents we have to live with are something we still have to worry about.”

Kasikornbank sees tourism as engine for Thai growth (10:12 am)

Tourism will be the “engine” of Thailand’s economy in 2023 and beyond, said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairman of Kasikornbank Pcl, the country’s second largest bank by assets, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the APEC CEO summit.

The bank expects hotel operators and other tourism-related business customers to recover strongly as Thailand’s travel industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Thailand, where tourism accounts for 12% of gross domestic product and a fifth of jobs, needs to diversify its overseas tourism market beyond China to sustain the industry’s long-term growth, Kobkarn said.

Thailand says environmental sustainability is a key APEC agenda (9:43 am)

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said the world is facing unprecedented environmental challenges and sustainability is the top agenda for this week’s APEC leaders’ summit.

He also called on the public and private sectors to work together in support of sustainability initiatives, adding: “We must ensure that we leave no one behind on the path of development and growth.”

Prayut urged APEC leaders to sign what he called a Bangkok Goals declaration on the “bio-circular green” economic model at the end of the summit. “No country can achieve its goals alone,” Prayut said. “We inhabit the same earth.”

NZ PM meets with China’s Xi Jinping at APEC (2:54pm)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ summit in Thailand, Stuff reports, without citing a source for the information.

Arden had previously said that if a meeting were held, issues such as trade, climate change and areas of difference would be discussed, the media outlet reported.

–Assisted by Samy Adghirni, Pathom Sangwongwanich, and John Boudreau.

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