Treasury and Costa Rican Government Cooperate on Sanction Against Notorious Narcotics Trafficker

Narcotics Trafficking Tied to 66 Percent Increase in Costa Rica’s Homicide Rate Over Previous Decade

WASHINGTON — Today, in support of President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy and in cooperation with the government of Costa Rica, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Gilbert Hernan de Los Angeles Bell Fernandez (Bell), a Costa Rican narcotics trafficker, known not only for the volume of drugs he moves but the violence with which he operates, who has played a significant role in Costa Rica’s recent transformation into a major narcotics transit hub.

According to the State Department’s 2023 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Costa Rica has a growing domestic drug consumption problem, as drugs warehoused in Costa Rica increasingly enter the local market and domestic criminal organizations gain influence with increased narcotics revenues. The national homicide rate rose from 11.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 12.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022. The homicide rate in the province of Limon is 35.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Despite these challenges, Costa Rica works closely with the United States to professionalize police, strengthen citizen security, and increase drug interdictions. However, resource limitations strain Costa Rican law enforcement services and pose significant challenges to future success.

“Today’s action demonstrates our shared commitment to address the surge in violent crime in Costa Rica, driven by narcotics trafficking,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States will continue to partner with of the government of Costa Rica, as well as with our key partners in the region, to leverage our collective tools and authorities against these groups’ illicit facilitation networks.”


Bell, also known as “Macho Coca”, is one of the most prolific drug traffickers in Limón, moving large quantities of cocaine; he is also known as one of the most violent traffickers in Limón. Bell was arrested by Costa Rican authorities in 2015 on drug-related charges and has had property seized by Costa Rican authorities in multiple raids, including several boats allegedly used for drug transshipment seized in February 2023.

OFAC designated Bell pursuant to Executive Order 14059 for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.

Today’s action is also the result of close collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Costa Rica Country Office.


As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. U.S. persons may face civil or criminal penalties for violations of E.O. 14059.  

Today’s action is part of a whole-of-government effort to counter the global threat posed by the trafficking of illicit drugs into the United States that is causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans annually, as well as countless more non-fatal overdoses. OFAC, in coordination with its U.S. government partners and foreign counterparts, will continue to target and pursue accountability for foreign illicit drug actors.

U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior. Consistent with the findings of Treasury’s 2021 Sanctions Review, the removal of sanctions is available for persons designated under counter narcotics authorities who demonstrate a change in behavior and no longer engage in activities linked to international illicit drug trafficking or other sanctionable activity. 

For information concerning the process for seeking removal from any OFAC list, including the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here

For more information on the individual designated today, click here.

To view the chart on the individual designated today, click here.




TSX Delisting Review – MAV Beauty Brands Inc. (MAV)

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United States and United Kingdom Take Coordinated Action Against Hamas Leaders and Financiers

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed its third round of sanctions targeting Hamas-affiliated individuals and entities since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. This action designates key Hamas officials and the mechanisms by which Iran provides support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Today’s designations are coordinated with action by the U.K. and are aimed at protecting the international financial system from abuse by Hamas and their enablers. The U.S. Department of State is concurrently designating a leader of PIJ’s military wing.

“The United States will continue to work with our partners, including the U.K., to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Hamas’s actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation. Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.”

This action builds on OFAC’s recent October 27 and October 18 designations of Hamas operatives and financial facilitators, as well as its May 2022 designation of officials and companies involved in managing Hamas’s secret international investment portfolio. These persons are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters.


Iranian support, primarily through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has enabled Hamas’s and PIJ’s terrorist activities, to include the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance and the furnishing of both weapons and operational training.

Nasser Abu Sharif serves as the PIJ representative to Iran, the group’s primary financier. Iran’s IRGC has trained PIJ fighters to build and develop missiles in Gaza. 

 PIJ’s financial activities have been carried out through the Muhjat AlQuds Foundation in Gaza, a PIJ-run, Iran-funded organization whose primary mission is to provide financial support to the families of PIJ fighters and prisoners. Hamas financial facilitators have assisted PIJ in laundering money from outside of Gaza for eventual transfer to the Muhjat AlQuds Foundation. The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is led by PIJ political official Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan, who has distributed Iranian provided funds to PIJ personnel in Gaza. ‘Aliyan, who has served on PIJ’s executive committee, has overseen PIJ finances as it relates to important group logistics. 

Nasser Abu Sharif and Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, PIJ. The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, PIJ.

Additionally, today, the Department of State designated Akram al-Ajouri (Ajouri), the Damascus-based Deputy Secretary General of PIJ and leader of the Al-Quds Brigades, PIJ’s militant wing. Ajouri coordinated the militant training and recruitment operations for PIJ in Gaza, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Yemen. Ajouri is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for being a leader of PIJ.

Hamas uses the Lebanon-based money exchange company Nabil Chouman & Co (Chouman) to transfer money from Iran to Gaza. For several years, the company has served as a conduit for transferring funds to Hamas, transferring tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist organization. Chouman owner and founder Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, together with his son Khaled Chouman and another Lebanon-based money exchanger Reda Ali Khamis (Khamis) worked with Hamed Ahmed al-Khudari (Khudari). Khudari was a member of Hamas and its militant wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and a prominent money exchanger for the group until his death in 2019. Khamis was involved in facilitating financial transfers from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas as well as PIJ in Gaza, and was responsible for the transfer of more than $7 million from the IRGC-QF to Hamas. 

Nabil Chouman & Co, Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, Khaled Chouman, and Reda Ali Khamis are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hamas. 


Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar (Zahhar) is a senior member and co-founder of Hamas who has worked closely with Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Zahhar has spoken publicly on behalf of Hamas, including in formal interviews, to threaten violence against Jewish civilians and emphasize its commitment to the destruction of Israel. As a Hamas representative, Zahhar has also acknowledged and thanked Iran for its support of Hamas.

Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.

Additionally, Mu’ad Ibrahim Muhammed Rashid al-Atili is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.


As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. 

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.

Treasury remains committed to enabling the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance supporting the basic human needs of vulnerable populations, while continuing to deny resources to terrorists and other malicious actors. Accordingly, OFAC sanctions programs contain provisions for legitimate humanitarian support to vulnerable populations, including authorizations for certain humanitarian transactions in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities to ensure legitimate support is reaching the intended recipients. For more information, please review relevant authorizations and guidance on OFAC’s website.

Click here for more information on the individuals and entities designated today.

Additional Treasury resources on countering the financing of terrorism:




Registration Open for OCC Symposium on the Tokenization of Real-World Assets and Liabilities

WASHINGTON—The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today announced that registration is open for its symposium on the tokenization of real-world assets and liabilities on February 8, 2024, at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The symposium will include panel discussions among thought leaders, academics, community groups, and the banking industry on tokenization and is open to the public for in-person or virtual attendance.

The symposium will feature opening remarks from Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu and keynote remarks from Hyun Song Shin, Economic Adviser and Head of Research at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The symposium will also include moderated panel discussions to explore the legal foundations for digital asset tokens, tokenization use cases, and risk management and control considerations. There will also be a panel discussion of academic papers on tokenization.

Registration is required for in-person attendance at the symposium and is open until January 22, 2024, or until full, whichever occurs first. For security reasons, attendees will be subject to screening and must present a valid government-issued identification to enter the building. The symposium will also be livestreamed.

The symposium agenda and information about how to register are accessible here. The link to the livestream will be available here no later than February 8, 2024.

Related Link

Agencies Announce Dollar Thresholds for Smaller Loan Exemption from Appraisal Requirements for Higher-priced Mortgage Loans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today announced that the 2024 threshold for whether higher-priced mortgage loans are subject to special appraisal requirements will increase from $31,000 to $32,400.

The threshold amount will be effective January 1, 2024, and is based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, known as CPI-W, as of June 1, 2023.

The Dodd-Frank Act added special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans, including that creditors obtain a written appraisal based on a physical visit to the interior of the home before making a higher-priced mortgage loan. The rules implementing these requirements contain an exemption for loans of $25,000 or less, adjusted annually to reflect CPI-W increases.

New U.S. Department of the Treasury Analysis Highlights How Policies to Address Climate Change Promote Economic Growth

Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will reduce emissions and pollution, incentivize adaptation, increase R&D, reduce economic vulnerability

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury published analysis on how the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and other federal policies to address climate change can promote economic growth.  

The analysis by Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy (P.D.O.) Eric Van Nostrand and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate & Energy Economics Arik Levinson describes how the Inflation Reduction Act will promote growth by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, incentivizing climate adaptations, combatting pollution that often accompanies greenhouse emissions, increasing research and development, and reducing economic vulnerability to the international price volatility of fossil fuels.   

Van Nostrand and Levinson write, “Reducing greenhouse gases mitigates the costly damages those emissions would have caused—the most direct way that climate policy benefits the economy.  Some of those economic costs are obvious, like costs due to more frequent and more powerful hurricanes, floods, and fires. Others are more subtle but still pernicious.  Temperature increases have been found to cause declines in students’ academic performance and future incomes, as well as diminish worker productivity, reducing economic potential across the economy. The U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and Office of Management and Budget summarized twelve recent studies assessing the aggregate cost climate damages will impose on the U.S. economy. Collectively, they suggest climate damages are already reducing U.S. GDP, and that economic damages will accelerate as global average temperatures rise.  Cutting back on greenhouse gases will therefore provide economic benefits, especially if the emissions reductions are part of a coordinated international effort like the Paris Climate Agreement.” 

They continue“[C]limate policies that promote clean energy may buffer the economy from fluctuations in fossil fuel prices. Just in the past three years, natural gas prices have quadrupled and then fallen by 50 percent, causing significant swings in electricity prices. And oil prices, which account for more than half of the retail price of gasoline, swung from below $40 per barrel to over $130… Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are not subject to that type of price uncertainty.  Once the solar panels and wind turbines have been installed, the fuel to power them is effectively costless.  Businesses and households that heat or cook with electricity powered by renewable energy will not be vulnerable to large price swings.  And drivers of electric cars can rest assured that their transportation costs won’t suddenly double. Creating a more stable and resilient energy system may therefore benefit all Americans by making the economy less susceptible to price shocks that can trigger recessions.”  

Full text of the analysis is available here.


Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at Press Conference Following the Conclusion of the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in San Francisco, California

As Prepared for Delivery

Hello everyone and thank you for joining today. 

I’ve been very glad to chair the 2023 Finance Ministers’ Meeting here in San Francisco over the past two days. And the United States has been proud to host APEC throughout this year. Hosting APEC is one of the many ways the Biden Administration is broadening and deepening our economic ties across Asia-Pacific economies. APEC economies are at the center of the global economy and our world’s economic future. The United States’ engagement with other APEC economies strengthens the U.S. economy, benefits American workers and firms, and advances American interests. It’s bringing significant benefits to the region as well. And cooperation across APEC economies is also key to tackling the challenges we all face, including the urgent threat of climate change.

Over the past year, APEC members have advanced our shared vision of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific region through finance track engagements. And today’s Finance Ministers’ Meeting allowed us to cement progress on key priorities: from monitoring macroeconomic and financial developments in the region and globally, to advancing our approaches to regulation of digital assets, sustainable finance, and inclusive growth-oriented policies consistent with what I’ve called modern supply-side economics. 

I’ll start there. APEC members have affirmed a shared interest in pursuing policies that expand the productive capacity of our economies while also achieving outcomes like reducing inequality and protecting the environment. In the United States, we’re doing this through a historic trifecta of legislation: President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS Act, and Inflation Reduction Act. I’m very pleased that other APEC economies recognize the potential of this strategy and are pursuing similar policies, including ones that support research and development, invest in infrastructure, and drive labor force participation. 

We’ve also aligned on the importance of addressing global challenges. Our joint work centers on unlocking the flow of sustainable finance, including through exploring ways to drive the development of credible climate commitments and to create effective and high integrity voluntary carbon markets. We also agree that engagement with the private sector is critical, as is engagement with international financial institutions. The Biden Administration’s efforts to accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy range from our launch of the Principles for Net-Zero Financing and Investment, to our call to evolve the multilateral development banks, to our support for the transition to clean energy in economies including Indonesia and Vietnam through Just Energy Transition Partnerships. Our discussions have revealed the ways other APEC members are also pursuing meaningful work.

There is also commitment to continued work on the responsible development of digital assets, where many APEC economies are leading the way. We see increasing adoption of digital asset technologies across the region and note their potential to increase financial inclusion and reduce the cost of cross-border transactions. We also recognize that digital asset technologies carry risks, however, and appreciate the need for proper regulation and other policies to manage those risks. 

Of course, chairing the APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting is only one aspect of the United States’ much broader commitment to deepening our engagement across the Asia-Pacific region. As one example, Treasury is actively engaged in the ongoing work to reach a substantial conclusion of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. This would be a monumental achievement for IPEF members, addressing issues from climate change to supply chain security. And since IPEF members collectively account for 40 percent of global GDP, it would be significant for the global economy as well.  

Responsibly managing the U.S.-China economic relationship has also been a key priority throughout my time in San Francisco. As you know, I met with Vice Premier He Lifeng, my Chinese counterpart, here last week. And I had a productive meeting with China’s new Finance Minister, Lan Fo’an, this week. President Biden and I believe strongly in advancing the values we share with our allies and partners, in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, while also pursuing a healthy and stable economic relationship with China. Going forward, we hope to build on the foundation we’ve laid to further deepen communication, stabilize the relationship, and make progress on key policy issues. There is hard work ahead of us, but I believe our engagements here have moved us along the right path.

As the United States nears the end of a productive APEC host year, I am impressed by all we’ve collectively accomplished across our priority areas. We congratulate Peru on its upcoming host year and look forward to supporting its work. And through APEC and otherwise, the United States will remain committed to deepening our economic ties with the Asia-Pacific. Advancing our shared vision is crucial to the success of Asia-Pacific economies, and it supports jobs, growth, and resilience at home in the United States as well.

I’ll take your questions. 



Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Gala Dinner in San Francisco, California

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis for your remarks and introduction. And to Dominic for your remarks and leadership. To all ABAC delegates: Thank you for your hard work to make the United States’ host year a success, and welcome to San Francisco. This evening, I’ll discuss the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, APEC’s evolving mission, and the absolutely vital role of the private sector in advancing APEC’s work.

Over the past few decades, the Asia-Pacific region has steadily increased in importance for the global economy. The region is a key driver of global innovation, opportunity, and growth. And its economic importance is only poised to increase. We all recognize this, and the Biden-Harris Administration has made engaging with the region a key strategic priority. The United States’ economic approach has included deepening our regional economic ties, with tremendous potential benefits for the U.S. economy and for APEC economies. I’ve personally visited six APEC members in the past two years. I’ve seen firsthand their economic dynamism and promise, and I’ve engaged with authorities, citizens, and the private sector to deepen the United States’ ties.

The United States is also deeply committed to APEC itself. 30 years ago, we convened the first APEC Leaders’ Meeting on Blake Island in the state of Washington, and leaders first outlined APEC’s vision of economic cooperation to promote shared prosperity. Since, APEC members have reaffirmed and updated that mission, most recently in the 2020 Putrajaya Vision, where we recommitted ourselves to our shared vision of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

30 years after Blake Island, this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Week is an opportunity for us to accelerate progress toward this shared vision. Today, during the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, my fellow ministers and I discussed the significant strides we’re making to unlock more growth and dynamism across the region. We focused on our three finance track themes: the responsible development of digital assets; support for effective energy transitions and sustainable finance; and economic policies to enable stronger growth while supporting inclusion and environmental sustainability. Across each theme, we recognized engagement with the private sector was key. 

Indeed, one of APEC’s core strengths is that it not only recognizes the integral role the private sector plays in achieving our mission; it fully integrates the private sector in its work. ABAC, through its formal role in APEC, connects authorities with private sector actors to share viewpoints and find ways to advance our common goals. 

I especially appreciate ABAC’s focus on equity and sustainability, themes that align closely with this year’s finance track priorities. As I discussed with ministers earlier today, reducing inequality is key to unlocking the untapped potential of our economies. And the post-pandemic recovery offers APEC members a critical opportunity to drive inclusive growth. Doing so will not only improve the lives of our citizens; more inclusive economies are also stronger and more resilient. For example, we must continue to look for ways to enable women’s participation in the workforce—to fuel their full participation in society and to unlock a critical source of economic dynamism. The private sector has a key role to play here.

Sustainability is another focus for both APEC Finance Ministers and ABAC. Many APEC economies are highly vulnerable to climate change.  Given the interconnectedness of our economies and our shared vision of the future, we have no choice but to join together to address this challenge and to realize the opportunities of the transition to net zero. In today’s meeting, Finance Ministers discussed the need for continued efforts to support just energy transitions and explored how to strengthen mechanisms that enable carbon reduction across our economies, including voluntary carbon markets. And we focused on promoting climate-aligned financing approaches to harness private sector investment.

As leaders in the private sector, ABAC members are a critical partner in these initiatives. And looking across the private sector more broadly, I am heartened by the increasing numbers of firms working to increase equity and address climate change, among many other shared priorities.

With that, thank you again to all of you for your work to advance APEC’s vision. It’s been a productive host year for the United States, and we look forward to continued strong partnership with the private sector to drive much more progress in the years to come.


READOUT: Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen’s Meeting with Minister of Finance Lan Fo’an of the People’s Republic of China

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen held an introductory meeting with Minister of Finance Lan Fo’an of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Secretary Yellen spoke about her meeting with PRC Vice Premier He Lifeng earlier this week and conveyed the continued importance of maintaining resilient communication channels with China, including through the Economic and Financial Working Groups.


Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at Opening Session of APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in San Francisco, California

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, and welcome to the 30th annual Finance Ministers’ Meeting. Thank you to the City of San Francisco for hosting us and to all of you for being here.

Let me start by putting this meeting in its larger context. The Asia-Pacific region is at the center of the global economy. APEC members represent some of the fastest growing and most dynamic economies in the world, driving both growth and innovation. So, the actions we take matter, not only for our own economies and people, but also for addressing the global challenges the world faces. And as we seek to achieve our shared vision of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community, coordination and collaboration among our economies is crucially important. 

The United States has been glad to help further this vision and our coordination by hosting APEC this year.  Throughout the year, APEC members have met across the United States to cover a wide range of key topics. 

And as we work collectively and individually to advance our vision, finance and fiscal policies are among the most powerful tools we have. This is why the United States elevated the Finance Ministers’ Meeting to be part of APEC Economic Leaders’ Week this year. And 2023 has been a pivotal year for the Finance Ministers’ Process. After several years during which we rightly prioritized our response to and then our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve now refocused on the longer-term priorities established by APEC Finance Ministers in the 2015 Cebu Action Plan. The Action Plan emphasizes strengthening financial resilience and advancing fiscal reforms to build our economies over the long run. This effort starts with a full understanding of the global and regional economic and financial outlook, which we’ll discuss in session one. We’ll then turn to the three priorities we’ve focused on throughout this year: modern supply-side economics, sustainable finance, and digital assets. Let me highlight the progress we’ve made and where we hope to focus today for each of these priorities.

First, in discussions this year, we’ve advanced our thinking on what I’ve been calling modern supply-side economics: that is, policies that expand the productive capacity of our economies while improving resilience and addressing inequality. We’ve identified policies to increase the quality and quantity of labor supply, strengthen public infrastructure, and invest in research and development and environmental sustainability. And we’ve conducted a survey of APEC members’ policy efforts on modern supply-side economics that I look forward to discussing further.

Second, our work on sustainable finance has focused on how to mobilize resources to accelerate our just energy transitions and achieve our respective net-zero emissions goals. We’ve discussed how to finance efficient and effective energy transitions while supporting the individuals and communities who are most vulnerable. The Indonesia and Vietnam Just Energy Transition Partnerships are two powerful examples of these efforts. I look forward to hearing your responses to the Note to Ministers and to discussing your energy transition plans. 

We’ve also furthered work on voluntary carbon markets, including by hearing from experts on the state of these markets in APEC economies and discussing ways that authorities can help improve their integrity and depth. We’ve compiled research that highlights how finance ministries can support the development of these markets as part of our broader climate finance toolkits. I look forward to hearing today about how you are thinking about supporting the scaling and effectiveness of credible carbon markets. 

We’ve also discussed the climate-aligned finance approaches APEC members are putting in place to help private sector actors pursue credible and specific climate commitments. For example, Treasury is proud to have recently released the “Principles for Net-Zero Financing and Investment.” These Principles affirm the importance of credible net-zero commitments and encourage financial institutions that make them to take consistent approaches to implementation. But because approaches vary across jurisdictions, we also need to think through how best to address any inconsistences and promote interoperability. Our working lunch with private sector participants and our third session will be a chance to discuss how authorities and the private sector can jointly take action on this and other sustainable finance issues.

Last, on digital assets, which we’ll discuss in session four, sharing insights and engaging with the private sector has enabled us to deepen our collective understanding of the tools that policymakers can use to facilitate the responsible development and use of digital assets, including unbacked crypto-assets, stablecoins, and central bank digital currencies. We’ve specifically explored the potential benefits and challenges of these innovative financial tools and approaches to maintaining high regulatory standards.  Today, I look forward to hearing your perspectives on the long-term role that digital assets and blockchain technologies can play in our respective financial systems, as well as how your authorities plan to approach regulatory oversight of their development and use.

The fact that these priority areas are oriented toward the long-term does not make addressing them any less urgent. We need to further improve our long-term economic outlook by boosting labor supply, innovation, and infrastructure investment, in ways that are also sustainable and reduce inequality. We need to put ourselves on a sustainable growth path, one where we safeguard our planet while providing our economies with the clean energy they need to grow. And we need to leverage emerging technologies to drive innovation while maintaining safe financial markets. 

With that, thank you again for your work and the work of your teams throughout this year, and for being here today. It’s a key opportunity to recognize our accomplishments and reaffirm our commitment to more progress. Our efforts are essential to the strength of our economies, the prosperity of our peoples, and the future of the global economy.  

I’ll now turn to my team to cover important procedural items, and then we’ll begin our first session.