In 2013, the Economic Committee (EC) furthered structural reform, provided analysis of economic trends and served as a forum for member economies to engage in policy discussions.
Highlights of EC Activities in 2013
Mid-term Progress Report on APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR)
One of the key deliverables of 2013 was mid-term progress reports submitted by all 21 economies on the implementation of the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR).
Structural reform focuses on policy reforms related to institutional frameworks, regulation and design of government policies that help minimize barriers to market-based incentives, competition and regional economic integration. The result of this kind of microeconomic reform can be to boost an economy’s growth potential. To assist member economies prioritize structural reform issues, the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform focuses on five broad areas outlined in the graphic below.
Five Pillars of APEC’s New Strategy for Structural Reform
The APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR), adopted by the APEC Leaders in 2010, calls on individual member economies to select structural reform priorities, and identify objectives, policies, and approaches for measuring progress over the 2011-2015 timeframe. This 2013 report is a mid-term progress review, designed to facilitate knowledge exchange and information sharing by highlighting examples of successful structural reforms, as well as identifying common challenges that have arisen during the ANSSR implementation process. Click here for a Summary of the ANSSR Mid-Term Progress Report and a Compilation of 21 Member Economies’ Reports.
APEC Economic Policy Report 2013: Promoting Fiscal Transparency and Public Accountability.
As part of APEC’s New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR) initiative, the 2013 APEC Economic Policy Report focused on APEC’s work to enhance fiscal transparency and public accountability. The report outlined the rationale and development of fiscal transparency and contained individual economy reports on their fiscal institutions and initiatives to promote fiscal transparency.
APEC Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Interim Assessment 2009-2012
The EC continued to work on the APEC Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Initiative with an interim assessment by the APEC Policy Support Unit presented to the Economic Committee in June 2013. APEC Leaders in 2009 endorsed the APEC Ease of Doing Business initiative focusing on an APEC-wide improvement of 25 percent by 2015 in five priority areas including starting a business, dealing with permits, getting credit, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts, with an interim target of 5 percent improvement by 2011.
The APEC Policy Support Unit’s interim assessment in 2013 found that APEC’s combined improvement across the five EoDB priority areas between 2009 and 2012 is equal to 11.5 percent, exceeding the 2012 pro rata benchmark of 10 percent improvement. The EC and member economies continue to work on implementing the Ease of Doing Business initiative.
Ease of Doing Business 2011-2013 Initiatives Implemented by Economies
||Recent activities by champion economies (2011-2013) include:
|Starting a Business
||New Zealand and the United States
||The US conducted bilateral diagnosis and capacity building with Indonesia (2011), Thailand (2012) and Peru (2013).
|Dealing with Construction Permits
||Singapore conducted diagnosis and capacity building with Peru, Thailand and Indonesia in 2012.
||Japan conducted bilateral diagnosis and capacity building with Thailand (2011), Chinese Taipei (2012) and Indonesia (2013).
||Korea conducted bilateral diagnosis and capacity building projects with Indonesia and Peru in 2011, Thailand and the Philippines in 2012, and Brunei Darussalam and Viet Nam in 2013.
|Trading Across Borders
||Hong Kong, China and Singapore
||Singapore conducted diagnosis and capacity building projects with Peru in 2011 and Viet Nam in 2012.
Detailed outcomes from the two EC plenary meetings held in 2013 are outlined below.
Key Deliberations (other than the above 2013 highlights):
- Deliberation on the progress of strengthening the implementation of the Good Regulatory Practices (GRP) and planning for the APEC Economic Policy Report 2014 with a focus on Good Regulatory Practices.
Policy Discussions held during the EC Plenary Meetings in 2013:
- “International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS),” led by New Zealand: The discussion considered the benefits of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and noted that the adoption of accrual basis accounting standards would increase government accountability.
- “Bureaucratic Reform,” organized by Indonesia: Members shared their experiences in conducting bureaucratic reform and addressing related challenges. They noted the importance of bureaucratic reform to enhance the competitiveness of an economy.
- “Regulatory Reform in Green Investment,” led by Japan: The policy discussion provided an overview of lessons learned and best practices of green investments within the context of regulatory reform, as well as the political implications of such investments.
- “State of the Regional Economy: Navigating towards Sustainable Growth in a Changing Landscape:” They discussed the global and regional outlook as well as short and long-term economic challenges. Members noted that structural and regulatory barriers are potential impediments to future growth in APEC’s emerging economies.
- “Competitive Neutrality” led by Australia featured the summary findings of the OECD Competitive Neutrality Report. The discussion considered the role and application of competitive neutrality governance policy as well as best practices to maintain a level playing field between public and private business.
- “Best Practices for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy and Public Sector Governance,” led by Public Sector Governance Friends of the Chair Coordinator (Chinese Taipei): Members discussed how to leverage ICT to strengthen public sector governance, including public service quality and government transparency.
Two workshops held prior to plenary meetings:
- “Simplified Authentication Process for Production of Public Documents Abroad through the Use of the Hague Apostille Conventions” was held on 27 June, organized by Hong Kong, China. The Hague Apostille Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in economies that have joined the convention. The workshop provided an overview of the Hague Apostille Convention and its benefits to the international business community as well as its contribution to Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). The EC noted that an APEC-wide adoption of the Hague Apostille Convention could contribute to achieving the goal of APEC’s EoDB improvement in the area of trading across borders, as concluded in the Workshop Summary Report.
- “Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis for Corporate Governance and Law: Roles and Duties of the Enforcement Bodies on Corporate Governance Compliance” was held on 28 June, organized by Chinese Taipei. The workshop discussed how financial regulators could protect shareholders and ensure company boards address risk management.
Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting 2008
An inaugural Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) was held in August 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. Ministers explored strategies for successful implementation of structural reforms and stressed the importance of robust legislative and institutional frameworks. They also engaged in a dialogue with business and considered the importance of structural reform to the private sector.
Economic Committee Initiatives in 2010 and 2011
The EC undertook various activities in the areas of structural reform, including LAISR and the APEC New Strategy on Structural Reform (ANSSR), the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) plan and regulatory reform, among others.
- The EC had in 2009 identified five priority areas for regulatory reform in APEC economies, namely: starting a business, getting credit, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and dealing with permits. These priority areas are the focus of the APEC "Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Action Plan," which was launched by Leaders in 2009. The Action Plan sets an APEC-wide aspirational target to make it 25 percent cheaper, faster and easier to do business within APEC economies by 2015, with an interim target of a 5 percent improvement by 2011. Led by "champion economies," a number of capacity building programmes were carried out in 2010 and 2011 focusing on the necessary regulatory reforms in the five priority areas. Awareness-building workshops (Phase I) have been conducted on each of the priority areas (see below), and current attention is on developing more customised capacity building measures in those economies that have sought specific assistance on their reform efforts (Phase II). The EoDB Phase I seminars and workshops held in 2010 and 2011 included: Workshop on "Reducing Start-up and Establishment Time of Businesses"; Workshop on “Enforcing Contracts”; Seminar on "Getting Credit for Small and Medium Enterprises"; "Reforming the Regulatory System for Construction Permits”; “APEC Seminar on the First Steps of Successful Reform in Doing Business”; and “APEC Seminar on the First Steps of Successful Reform in Doing Business”.
- On structural reform, a seminar on "Impacts of Structural Reform and LAISR Stocktake", was held in Hiroshima, Japan, in February 2010, discussing three areas: first, the issue of structural reforms in the telecommunications, transport and energy sectors in APEC; second, an examination of the impacts of those reforms, drawing on the findings of a PSU research project; and third, a stocktake of the progress that has been made in implementing the LAISR. Since 2011, a series of capacity building events have been held to build specific understanding of what ANSSR will seek to accomplish, including: Symposium on APEC's New Strategy for Structural Reform 2011 (ANSSR Symposium) in May 2011; ANSSR Residential Training on Structural Reform in August 2011; and Workshop on Assessing Approaches to Structural Reform in September 2011. The workshop in September 2011 was the final series of ANSSR activities held earlier in 2011 and assisted members in their selection of assessment indicators for their domestic ANSSR priorities.
- With regard to the area of regulatory reform, an "APEC-OECD Joint Seminar on the APEC-OECD Integrated Checklist on Regulatory Reform on Japan" was held in Hiroshima, Japan, in February 2010. This Seminar shared the results of Japan's self-assessment under the Integrated Checklist among the EC members and discussed the further utilisation of the Checklist to facilitate regulatory reform in the Asia-Pacific region. Aside from Japan, the other APEC economies to have conducted an assessment are the United States; Hong Kong, China; Chinese Taipei; Australia; and Korea. In particular, in the area of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).
- The workshop on “Using Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) to Improve Transparency and Effectiveness in the Rulemaking Process” was held in Washington DC in March 2011, focusing on how regulatory impact analysis (RIA) can be used to help develop more effective and transparent regulations, which can also contribute to improved public consultation in the rulemaking process.
- The workshop on “Advancing Good Corporate Governance by Promoting Utilization of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance” was held in Washington DC in March 2011 and discussed the 2010 APEC Economic Policy Report on Corporate Governance specific steps that can be taken to enhance regimes for corporate governance with reference to the OECD Principles for Corporate Governance.
Rory MCLEOD (Mr)
Director, Commercial and Consumer Branch
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
Kristin O’GRADY (Ms)