APEC member economies are developing mechanisms to better monitor and support their agenda to bring the region’s economies closer together. The aim is to promote a more fertile business environment.
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Teo Chee Hean, put this effort into context in remarks before representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council, also known as ABAC. They gathered in Singapore this week to prepare their recommendations for APEC Trade Ministers and Senior Officials who will meet later this month in Surabaya, Indonesia.
“The global economy has been on a slow path of steady recovery but continues to face challenges on several fronts,” said Teo. “Businesses and governments of the Asia-Pacific region need to work together to drive regional prosperity.”
Teo noted that private sector inputs help to guide APEC’s initiatives to facilitate free trade between members, based on their views “as business practitioners with a firm grasp of actual and practical needs on the ground.”
“Businesses in the region want to know what are our goals and, importantly, how the initiatives we are working on to achieve them get monitored,” said Dr Alan Bollard, the Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat
A dashboard to measure APEC’s progress toward the realization of free trade and investment in the region by 2020 is among the assessment mechanisms currently being developed. It is incorporating member economy data on tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as some investment measures.
The tracking of progress among member economies is showing that tariffs in the region have come down but that more needs to be done to address “next generation” trade and investment issues which businesses have helped bring to the fore.
“Public-private sector engagement is driving APEC’s work to facilitate supply chains, boost small and medium enterprise participation in them and promote greater innovation,” Dr Bollard explained. “This is important to ensuring that trade agreements keep pace with the increasing complexity of regional and global business models.”
But, he noted, “The business community needs to be realistic, passionate and persistent. Some initiatives will take a long time to accomplish.”