In 2016, EC supports APEC priorities by working on the implementation of the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR) endorsed by the Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) held in Cebu, the Philippines in September 2015.
To support this objective, the EC held a workshop in Lima, Peru on February 28 to discuss the implementation of the SRMM instructions under RAASR. This planning session was held prior to the Economic Committee’s first Plenary meeting on 29 February and 1 March, during which most of the activities and timeline for 2016 were endorsed.
Structural reform and inclusive growth/preparation of indicators under the RAASR
In September 2015, APEC Ministers attending the SRMM agreed to promote the use of quantitative indicators to measure APEC-wide progress on structural reform and support an APEC structural reform progress report developed by the APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) in conjunction with the Economic Committee. These measures will be used in the mid-term review of RAASR in 2018 and its final review in 2020.
In collaboration with the APEC PSU, the Economic Committee is currently developing a policy framework in the area of structural reform and inclusive growth, which will include indicators for both general progress under the RAASR and structural reform and inclusive growth.
Structural reform and innovation
In 2015, EC prepared an APEC Economic Policy Report (AEPR) that explored the links between structural reform and innovation from a regional perspective and identified how economies can stimulate innovation through implementing effective structural policies. In 2016, as instructed by Ministers, the Economic Committee promoted information sharing with other relevant APEC fora (including the Group on Services, the Intellectual Property Experts’ Group, the Ad Hoc Steering Group on the Internet Economy, the Life Sciences Innovation Forum and the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation) on the policy issues arising from its work on structural reform and innovation.
The Committee has continued its work on Middle Income Trap (MIT) issues in 2016, hosting a further half-day seminar on MIT issues in the margins of the second Plenary meeting of the EC in August.
Structural reform and services
The Committee is supporting the development of the APEC Services Cooperation Framework (ASCF) and is currently preparing the 2016 APEC Economic Policy Report, which will focus on Structural Reform and Services.
At the 2015 SRMM, the EC was instructed to raise the importance of services in RAASR and to encourage economies to implement unilateral reforms within their services sectors as part of their structural reform action plans. The SRMM also called on the Committee to support the initiative to develop an APEC Services Cooperation Framework (ASCF), and to closely collaborate with the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), the Group on Services (GoS) and other fora to:
- conduct public-private dialogues;
- conduct dialogues with sectoral regulators, policy makers, and business; and
- consider developing a joint work program with GoS, which may include producing a set of recommendations for domestic regulation of the services sectors.
Preparation of the 2016 APEC Economic Policy Report is progressing well and will focus on the link between structural reform and services. A joint meeting with the Committee on Trade and Investment was held in the margins of SOM3 in Lima in September to consider a first draft of this report.
Tools for structural reform
In 2015, the SRMM requested the EC encourage economies to increase their efforts to promote international regulatory cooperation, and to consider holding a Good Regulatory Practice Conference on the theme of building high-level support for reform (which includes international regulatory cooperation).
The Committee was also instructed to promote awareness and a wider use of international legal instruments to strengthen the legal infrastructure of APEC economies, as well as encourage member economies to undertake a self-assessment of barriers to competition (including a review of current competition laws and policies).
EC and CPLG have endorsed the following proposal from the Chairs as the way forward: inclusion of questions on the development and assessment of competition policies within RAASR IAPs; and activities within both the EC and CPLG aimed at taking this work forward. In this respect, a further set of discussions could be organised for CPLG and EC1 in early 2017.
Ease of Doing Business (EoDB)
During the SRMM a second EoDB implementation plan was endorsed, which sets an aspirational goal of a 10% improvement by 2018 in the existing five priority areas of EoDB. These are:
- starting a business;
- dealing with construction permits;
- trading across borders;
- getting credit; and
- enforcing contracts.
The Committee was instructed to draft and utilize the APEC EoDB Implementation Plan to guide capacity-building over the next three years.
New directions for structural reform
At the 2015 SRMM, APEC economies called for a review of the Structural Reform program through a high-level meeting in 2018 and a final Ministerial review in 2020.
Since 2004, APEC’s structural reform agenda – through the Leaders’ Agenda to Implement Structural Reform (LAISR) and the subsequent APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR) – has made a strong contribution to efforts to reduce behind-the-border barriers and promote balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth in the region.
At the second SRMM in Cebu, APEC economies welcomed the progress made in implementing structural reform under the ANSSR initiative launched in 2010. A mid-term review of stocktake reports in 2013 found that most economies reported notable progress towards the goals they had adopted. The Committee’s Friends of the Chair (FoTC) (Corporate Law and Governance; Ease of Doing Business; Public Sector Governance; Regulatory Reform; and Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure), as well as the Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG), supported these efforts through a number of workshops and discussions.
In Cebu, Ministers also recognised the importance of further intensifying work to:
remove barriers to and identifying new sources of growth;
narrowing development gaps; and
steering the world economy towards a path of greater shared prosperity.
In this regard, the agreement reached by APEC economies in 2015 to endorse the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR 2016-2020) is a significant achievement.
APEC economies have devoted considerable effort to ANSSR, undertaking hundreds of individual projects in the area, complemented by significant efforts toward capacity building.
The Economic Committee has also carried out substantive work in regard to overcoming the Middle Income Trap through structural reform. In May 2015, the Committee held a seminar on the subject, with a second held in 2016. The 2015 AEPR on Structural Reform and Innovation has also been a significant achievement in this regard. Policies to promote innovation are an important means of escaping the Middle Income Trap, raising long-term productivity and creating inclusive and sustainable growth.