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RMIT MBA Students lesson to senior business leaders at APEC: Embrace digital innovation.

26 Nov 2018

Despite APEC Leaders being unable to reach consensus on the joint communique – the first time in APEC’s 29-year history – the members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) used their final meeting for 2018 to highlight their continued strong and unanimous support for the global rules-based trading system and the continued vision of achieving a Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).


The ABAC RMIT team presenting the Human Resource Development Challenges and Opportunities Arising from Digital Innovation. L-R Bonnie Rivendell, Michael Fairbairn, Anthos Yannakou, Joanne Nixon, Eryn Behan, Chelsea Sailas, Nou Vada and Andrew MacIntyre. 

In a time, when protectionist sentiment continues to rise, and the role of international institutions in their current form are increasingly questioned, the role that ABAC plays in advising APEC Leaders on the practical needs of business within the region, is invaluable. 

“Closer economic integration and rules-based trading systems, including the WTO, have underpinned the shared prosperity we have achieved over the past 30 years,” said ABAC Chair David Toua. “However, these systems and structures have not kept pace with the way business is done today, and multilateral efforts to modernize these systems are required to reflect current trade and economic realities.

Following the ABAC Meeting for 2018, ABAC Members met with APEC Leaders in a private dialogue to discuss the main priorities for government going forward, and how business can support meeting such objectives. 

A key element of this discussion, put forward by ABAC and well-received by Leaders, was the growing importance of the digital economy, and the importance of leveraging the digital age. This view was reinforced by a report developed and presented by RMIT University on Human Resource Development Challenges and Opportunities Arising from Digital Innovation. The report analyses key trends in digital technologies, the impact of digital innovation on APEC economies, enabling social inclusiveness and human resource development through digital innovation. 

The presentation was delivered by Joanne Nixon, Eryn Behan, Chelsea Sailas and Nou Vada. Chelsea Sailas, 17-year-old student from Kopkop College in Port Moresby was selected to join the presentation group to discuss a concept she is currently working on. The concept is a national identity registration and management system using blockchain. This presentation reinforced the message to senior business leaders present at the meeting, that times are changing, and the need to embrace digital innovation is critical. 

The final ABAC meeting, and productive dialogues with APEC Leaders, marks the end of a challenging, but very successful 2018 for ABAC. The Australian APEC Study Centre would like to congratulate our colleagues in PNG for their Chairmanship of 2018 and look forward to supporting ABAC Chile through 2019. 

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L-R Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (Vietnam), President Joko Widodo (Indonesia), Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Australia), Special Representative of President Morris Chang (Chinese Taipei), and ABAC members

The Australian APEC Study Centre team at the 4th ABAC Meeting L-R John Farrugia, Bonnie Rivendell, Andrew MacIntyre, Robert Milliner and Lisa Barker

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