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As tariffs have declined in the APEC region, attention has gradually shifted to the structural and regulatory obstacles that inhibit cross-border trade and investment and create behind-the-border barriers to doing business.

The Economic Committee (EC) works to remove these obstacles by promoting structural reform within APEC. Structural reform consists of improvements made to institutional frameworks, regulations and government policies so that the efficient functioning of markets is supported and behind-the-border barriers are reduced.

In 2004, APEC Leaders endorsed an ambitious work programme called the Leaders' Agenda to Implement Structural Reform 2010 (LAISR). The agenda covers five areas for structural policy reform: regulatory reform, competition policy, public sector governance, corporate governance, and strengthening economic and legal infrastructure. Building on the work in these five areas, APEC's structural reform agenda was expanded beyond the LAISR's priority areas through the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR) initiative launched in 2010.

The EC was established in 1994 and meets twice a year. The EC also works closely with other relevant APEC fora including the Competition Policy and Law Group, the Committee on Trade and Investment, and the Finance Ministers' Process.



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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

 

Priority Areas Champion 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 Singapore conducted diagnosis and capacity building with Peru, Thailand and Indonesia in 2012.
Getting Credit Japan Japan conducted bilateral diagnosis and capacity building with Thailand (2011), Chinese Taipei (2012) and Indonesia (2013).
Enforcing Contracts Korea 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.

Rory MCLEOD (Mr)
Chair
Director, Commercial and Consumer Branch
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
New Zealand
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Kristin O’GRADY (Ms)
Assistant
APEC Secretariat
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