About the Symposium

The ABAC Digital Symposium 2021 is a three-day virtual symposium hosted by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Canada Secretariat and sponsored by Global Affairs Canada. The goal of the symposium is to take stock of innovative solutions that could enable member economies to re-open more fully in the midst of the global COVID pandemic, and to explore the enabling conditions needed to deploy them at scale across APEC.

We will share best practices and case studies and discuss the government policies needed to harmonize and implement these innovations at scale in all APEC economies. More importantly, the symposium will act as a catalyst for piloting and procuring solutions across interested APEC economies.

The symposium opens with a high level panel of four APEC Ministerial speakers discussing the readiness of APEC countries to pilot, apply and harmonize digital innovation to support market reopening. Day two and three will focus on selected companies from APEC presenting their digital and innovative solutions on four sub-themes:

Re-Opening for Global Business Travel

While digital communications and automation have kept businesses connected over the course of the pandemic, international travel and trade will always be essential to a strong, collaborative global economy. To resume widespread global business travel, transport agencies and local health authorities need ways to certify, authenticate and secure COVID-19 test results, as well as ways to mitigate transmissions while people are in transit. Hear business and health experts present promising new methods to make travel – and particularly airports – reliable touchpoints in international commerce and health security.

Digital transformation of MSMEs

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the lifeblood of our economies, representing more than 70 per cent of global employment and more than half of the world’s GDP. However, these same businesses have been hardest hit by the fall-out of the pandemic. To survive, MSMEs have had to embrace digital solutions for front, middle and back office needs – but doing so has never been easy. Hear what programs, supports and resources are ensuring MSMEs have everything they need to compete in a physically distanced world, and how they can continue to grow despite unprecedented challenges.

Digitizing Trade and Supply Chain Finance

For many businesses, a decades-long focus on minimizing costs through supply chain optimization ultimately reduced inventories, removed buffers and limited flexibility. A global shock like COVID-19 exposed these vulnerabilities, leaving businesses unable to absorb disruptions caused by the pandemic and its accompanying recession. Fortunately, new technologies have emerged to keep trade flowing even as supply chains remain restricted. From cross-border e-commerce and digital payments to replacing physical documents with electronic records, ABAC launched the Asia-Pacific Financial Forum Digital Trade Lab to lead research and engagement on digitally enabled trade. Hear from business leaders working with the Lab on how to leverage advanced technologies to make trade simpler, safer and faster.

Funding Sustainable Infrastructure Projects

Governments around the world are looking to create stimulus packages that address the enormity of COVID-19’s economic impact, which some predict to be a more than 5 per cent drop in global GDP over the next five years. Infrastructure will play a large role in these plans, with its legacy of both immediate economic growth (in job creation and boosted spending) and longer-term growth (in increased accessibility to employment and utilities). Hear what innovative projects are helping significantly reduce the burden such infrastructure takes on our environment, and how we can integrate sustainability priorities in procurement, construction and use.


The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was created by the APEC Economic Leaders in November 1995 to provide advice on the implementation of the Osaka Action Agenda and on other specific business sector priorities, and to respond when the various APEC fora request information about business-related issues or to provide the business perspective on specific areas of cooperation.