Innovations to Solve for Pandemic Challenges to be Showcased in 3-Day Virtual Symposium

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MARCH 8, 2021 – TORONTO, ON In the midst of international vaccine rollouts and emerging virus variants, the timing of a “return to normal” remains unclear. Around the world, business, health, and public sector leaders are deploying new innovations to solve for COVID-19 related issues and reopen economies more fully.

To showcase, promote, and scale these innovations from some of the world’s fastest-growing and most technologically integrated economies, as well as those that have been able to reopen more fully, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (ABAC Canada Secretariat) are convening the ABAC 2021 Digital Symposium on March 9-11, 2021 (UTC-8)*.

The ABAC 2021 Digital Symposium organizes these showcases around four key themes – all of which are priorities in ensuring a strong global economic recovery: Re-Opening Global Business Travel, Digitally Transforming MSMEs, Digitizing Trade and Supply Chain Finance, and Funding Sustainable Infrastructure Projects.

The Day 1 opening session will feature four APEC ministers discussing the readiness of their economies to pilot, apply, and harmonize innovation to support market re-opening:

  • The Hon. Dr. David Clark, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications (New Zealand)
  • The Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade (Canada)
  • The Hon. Lucas Palacios, Minister of Economy, Development and Turismo of Chile (Chile)
  • The Hon. Chan Chun Sing, Minister of Trade and Industry (Singapore)

Day 2 and 3 of the Symposium will feature more than 20 global business leaders discussing the innovations and digital solutions to enable the re-opening of APEC markets and trade with amid COVID-19. Following each panel discussion, there will be a unique opportunity to further discuss pilots with the speakers and network with other attendees.

Chair of ABAC’s Digital Working Group and President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Jan De Silva, will host the Symposium. There will also be opening remarks from ABAC Chair Rachel Taulelei, CEO of Kono – a Māori-owned food and beverage company in New Zealand exporting to more than 25 countries.

The ABAC 2021 Digital Symposium is presented with the support of Global Affairs Canada and is open to media. Panellist and speaker interviews are available by request. To attend, media must register on the event website. Following registration, an event link will be forwarded.

* Next day in Asia and the Pacific


“Our work in the APEC Business Advisory Council this year is all about achieving better outcomes for people, place and prosperity - and digital technologies can help us to deliver tangible progress in all three.  Digital innovation could underpin our economic recovery - and this Symposium is an excellent way to share, learn, and explore how.”

– Rachel Taulelei, ABAC Chair and CEO of Kono

“Reopening our economies isn’t a winner-takes-all race. The more countries that bring workers and customers back, the faster our connected global marketplace will recover. Deploying and enabling innovative, digital solutions within our economies is key to enabling recovery.”

– Jan De Silva, ABAC Digital Working Group Chair and President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade

“This pandemic has given us an unprecedented opportunity to innovate, to change course and rethink the way we approach our economy. To achieve a successful reactivation of our markets, collaboration between companies of various sizes and systemic responses to address this pandemic is crucial. In this scenario, and thanks to the opportunities generated by the Digital Economy and Industry 4.0, we believe in the need to strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems; and in the strategic role played by innovation platforms to connect corporate challenges with technological solutions, thus linking entrepreneurs with companies.”

– Lucas Palacios, Minister of Economy, Development and Turismo of Chile

Associated Links:

ABAC 2021 Digital Symposium:

ABAC International:

Global Affairs Canada:

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada:

Greater Toronto Board of Trade:

About the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada:

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) is Canada’s leading organization for research, analysis, and consultation on Canada-Asia relations. APF Canada’s mission is to be Canada’s catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia’s bridge to Canada. The not-for-profit organization serves as the secretariat for Canada’s APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) members, providing research, analysis, and administrative support.

About the APEC Business Advisory Council:

ABAC is a private-sector body comprising 21 member economies that advises APEC on business sector priorities and concerns in the Asia Pacific. ABAC’s members include CEOs, presidents, and senior executives of leading corporations from the Asia Pacific. Canada’s ABAC Member representative is Jan De Silva, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade, and Chair, ABAC Digital Working Group.

Media Contacts:

ABAC Secretariat
Antonio I. Basilio, Director, ABAC Secretariat
On Twitter: @APECBiz

Jan De Silva, Symposium Host and Chair, ABAC Digital Working Group
Andrew Rudyk, Media Relations Specialist

On Twitter: @DeSilvaJanet

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

Michael Roberts, Communications Manager | Media Accreditation
On Twitter: @AsiaPacificFDN
On Facebook: AsiaPacificFoundation

Global Affairs Canada

Media Relations Office