The Leaders' Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards was endorsed by Leaders on 27 October 2002 in Mexico and the statement below is an updated version endorsed by Leaders on 21 October 2003 in Thailand
Los Cabos, Mexico
27 October 2002
Bangkok, Thailand
21 October 2003
We, the Economic Leaders of APEC, reaffirm the commitment made in the Shanghai Accord to pursue implementation of APEC’s transparency principles. In so doing, we observe that transparency:
  • is an important element in promoting economic growth and financial stability at the domestic and international levels;
  • is conducive to fairer and more effective governance and improves public confidence in government;
  • is a General Principle in the Osaka Action Agenda which requires its application to the entire APEC liberalization and facilitation process;
  • is a basic principle underlying trade liberalization and facilitation, where the removal of barriers to trade is in large part only meaningful to the extent that the members of the public know what laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings affect their interests, can participate in their development, can participate in administrative proceedings applying them and can request review of their application under domestic law;
  • in monetary, financial and fiscal policies, and in the dissemination of macroeconomic policy data ensures the accountability and integrity of central banks and financial agencies, and provides the public with needed economic, financial and capital markets data; and
  • will be enhanced through well-targeted, demand-driven capacity building to assist developing economies make progress toward greater openness.
Accordingly, we are committed to implementing the following transparency standards, taking into account the General Principles in the Osaka Action Agenda. We recognize that implementation of these standards will be an important APEC-led contribution to achieving a successful outcome for the WTO Doha Development Agenda.
Transparency in Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation
General Principles
  1. (a) Each Economy will ensure that its laws, regulations, and progressively, procedures and administrative rulings of general application respecting matters in Section C of Part One of the Osaka Action Agenda are promptly published or otherwise made available, for example via the Internet, in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other Economies to become acquainted with them.
    (b) Each Economy will have or designate an official journal or journals and publish any measures referred to in paragraph 1 in such journals. Each Economy will publish such journals on a regular basis and make copies of them readily available to the public.
    (c) An Economy may comply with subparagraph (b) by publication on the Internet.
    (d) Each Economy will promote observance of the provisions of this paragraph by the regional and local governments and authorities within its customs territory.
  2. When possible, each Economy will:
    (a) publish in advance any measure referred to in paragraph 1 that it proposes to adopt; and
    (b) provide where applicable interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures.
  3. Upon request from an interested person or another Economy, an Economy will endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed measure referred to in paragraph 1.
  4. Each Economy will ensure in its administrative proceedings applying any measure referred to in paragraph 1 that:
    (a) wherever possible, persons of another Economy that are directly affected by a proceeding are provided reasonable notice, in accordance with domestic procedures, when a proceeding is initiated, including a description of the nature of the proceeding, a statement of the legal authority under which the proceeding is initiated and a general description of any issues in controversy;
    (b) such persons are afforded a reasonable opportunity to present facts and arguments in support of their positions prior to any final administrative action, when time, the nature of the proceeding and the public interest permit; and
    (c) its procedures are in accordance with domestic law.
  5. Where warranted, each Economy will ensure that appropriate domestic procedures are in place to enable prompt review and correction of final administrative actions, other than those taken for sensitive prudential reasons, regarding matters covered by these Standards, that:
    (a) provide for tribunals or panels that are impartial and independent of any office or authority entrusted with administrative enforcement and have no substantial interest in the outcome of the matter;
    (b) provide parties to any proceeding with a reasonable opportunity to present their respective positions;
    (c) provide parties to any proceeding with a decision based on the evidence and submissions of record or, where required by domestic law, the record compiled by the administrative authority; and
    (d) ensure, subject to appeal or further review under domestic law, that such decisions are implemented by, and govern the practice of, the offices or authorities regarding the administrative action at issue.
  6. For purposes of these Standards, administrative ruling of general application means an administrative ruling or interpretation that applies to all persons and fact situations that fall generally within its ambit and that establishes a norm of conduct but does not include: (a) a determination or ruling made in an administrative or quasi-judicial proceeding that applies to a particular person, good or service of another Economy in a specific case; or (b) a ruling that adjudicates with respect to a particular act or practice.

Specific Principles

  1. Consistent with the above Standards, Economies will follow the transparency provisions contained in the following documents:
    (a) APEC Group on Services Menu of Options for Voluntary Liberalization, Facilitation and Promotion of Economic and Technical Cooperation in Services Trade and Investment;
    (b) APEC Investment Experts Group Options for Investment Liberalization and Business Facilitation to Strengthen the APEC Economies-For Voluntary Inclusion in Individual Action Plans;
    (c) APEC Principles to Enhance Competition and Regulatory Reform;
    (d) APEC Sub-Committee on Standard and Conformance objective to ensure transparency according to the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and the SCSC 1994 Declaration of an APEC Standards and Conformance Framework and 1998 Terms of Reference; and
    (e) APEC Principles on Trade Facilitation.
  2. (a) APEC sub-fora that have elaborated the above transparency provisions should review these regularly and, where appropriate, improve, revise or expand them further.
    (b) APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so.
    (c) APEC sub-fora that develop such new or revised transparency provisions should present them to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into this Statement.
Transparency in Monetary, Financial and Fiscal Policies and the Dissemination of Macroeconomic Policy Data
  1. Prior to our agreement in the Shanghai Accord to implement APEC transparency principles, we agreed in Brunei Darussalam in 2000 to support the key standards identified by the Financial Stability Forum. Three of these key standards focus on transparency:
    (a) Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies: Declaration of Principles;
    (b) Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency; and
    (c) General and Special Data Dissemination Standards.
  2. Following APEC Finance Ministers' decision to support the assessment of Economies' implementation of these transparency codes through the IMF-led Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs), Economies are encouraged to participate fully in the ROSC program. As voluntary disclosure of ROSC modules promotes transparency, Economies should, where practicable, disclose the results of these assessments.
Confidential Information

The provisions of this Statement will not require any Economy to disclose confidential information where such disclosure would impede law enforcement, the enactment of laws, or otherwise be contrary to the public interest or would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular persons or enterprises.

Area-Specific Transparency Standards
  1. (a) Economies are committed to implementing the area-Specific Transparency Standards contained in Sections A-H below in a manner consistent with the Standards in paragraphs 1-6 and 11 above. 1
    (b) Economies agree to review periodically the Area-Specific Transparency Standards contained in Sections A-H below and, where appropriate, improve, revise or expand them further.
A. Services
Introduction

Economies agree to implement, in respect of services, the General Principles contained in paragraphs 1-6 and paragraph 11 of the Leaders’ Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement").

Economies believe that, in the services context, it is particularly important to emphasize Leaders’ observation that transparency contributes to: good governance; improving public confidence in, and legitimacy of, regulatory regimes; better understanding of regulatory objectives; more efficient markets; and a more attractive investment climate in both small and large economies.

Economies take note of Leaders’ recognition that implementation of these standards will be an important APEC-led contribution to achieving success in the WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA) GATS negotiations.

Transparency Standards on Services

  1. (a) Each economy will, in the manner provided for in paragraph 1 of the General Principles in the Leaders’ Statement, ensure that its laws, regulations, and administrative procedures related to applications for licenses or authorizations (including, inter alia, licensing procedures and requirements/criteria, qualification procedures and requirements, and technical standards) and their renewal or extension are promptly published or otherwise made available in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other Economies to become acquainted with them.
    (b) Economies will use the Internet as much as possible, and specifically, official government web sites, to fulfill this obligation.
  2. Economies will publicize and maintain at least one enquiry point that will endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions from an interested person or another Economy pertaining to any actual or proposed measure. Economies will also make the names, official addresses, and other contact information (including website, telephone, facsimile) of its enquiry point(s) publicly available.
  3. Economies will diligently complete and provide annual updates to their electronic Individual Action Plans (E- IAPs) for services sectors.
  4. Regarding authorizations and licensing procedures, when possible:
    (a) the competent authorities of an Economy will, within a reasonable period of time after the submission of an application considered complete under domestic laws and regulations, inform the applicant of the decision concerning the application. The competent authorities will establish deadlines for processing of completed applications under normal circumstances.
    (b) at the request of the applicant, the competent authorities of the Economy will provide, without undue delay, information concerning the status of the application, including any reason for denial. Applicants will also be given the opportunity to resubmit or amend their application for further review, or file an appeal if an application is denied or found in violation of public regulations.
    (c) Economies will publish the time schedule for and costs of examinations required as part of the application process for a license or authorization in accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement.
  5. These Standards should be administered in a reasonable, objective and impartial manner.
B. Investment
Introduction

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed APEC sub-fora that have elaborated transparency provisions to review these regularly, and, where appropriate, improve, revise or expand them further. Economies were further instructed that such revised transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the following set of transparency standards on investment were developed for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. These principles flow from the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders at Los Cabos and also build on the Options for Investment Liberalization and Business Facilitation to Strengthen the APEC Economies - For Voluntary Inclusion in Individual Action Plans. Economies agree to implement, in respect of investment, the General Principles contained in paragraphs 1 through 6 and paragraph 11 of the Leaders’ Statement.

These principles provide specific guidance for implementation within an investment context.

Transparency Standards on Investment

  1. Each Economy will, in the manner provided for in paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, ensure that its investment laws, regulations, and progressively procedures and administrative rulings of general application ("investment measures") are promptly published or otherwise made available in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other economies to become acquainted with them.
  2. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will, to the extent possible, publish in advance any investment measures proposed for adoption and provide a reasonable opportunity for public comment.
  3. In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Leaders’ Statement, upon request from an interested person or another Economy, each Economy will:
    (a) endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed investment measures referred to in paragraph 1 above; and
    (b) provide contact points for the office or official responsible for the subject matter of the questions and assist, as necessary, in facilitating communications with the requesting economy.
  4. Where warranted, each Economy will ensure that appropriate domestic procedures are in place to enable prompt review and correction of final administrative actions, other than those taken for sensitive prudential reasons, regarding investment matters covered by these standards, that:
    (a) provide for tribunals or panels that are impartial and independent of any office or authority entrusted with administrative enforcement and have no substantial interest in the outcome of the investment matter;
    (b) provide parties to any proceeding with a reasonable opportunity to present their respective positions;
    (c) provide parties to any proceeding with a decision based on the evidence and submissions of record or, where required by domestic law, the record complied by the administrative authority; and
    (d) ensure subject to appeal or further review under domestic law, that such decisions will be implemented by, and govern the practice of, the offices or authorities regarding the administrative action at issue.
  5. If screening of investments is used based on guidelines for evaluating projects for approval and for scoring such projects if scoring is used, in accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement each Economy will publish and/or make publicly available through other means those guidelines.
  6. Each Economy will maintain clear procedures regarding application, registration, and government licensing of investments by:
    (a) publishing and/or making available clear and simple instructions, and an explanation of the process (the steps) involved in applying/government licensing/registering; and
    (b) publishing and/or making available definitions of criteria for assessment of investment proposals.
  7. Where prior authorization requirement procedures exist, each Economy will conduct reviews at the appropriate time to ensure that such procedures are simple and transparent.
  8. Each Economy will make available to investors all rules and other appropriate information relating to investment promotion programs.
  9. When negotiating regional trade agreements and free trade agreements that contain provisions with an investor/state dispute settlement mechanism, each Economy should consider whether or not to include transparency provisions.
  10. Each Economy will participate fully in APEC-wide efforts to update the APEC Investment Guidebook.
C. Competition Law and Policy and Regulatory Reform
Introduction

In October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed that APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so, and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the following set of transparency standards on competition and deregulation for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement were developed.

These principles flow from the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders at Los Cabos, and provide specific guidance for implementation within the context of competition law and policy and regulatory reform.

Transparency Standards on Competition Law and Policy
  1. In furtherance of paragraph 1 of the General Principles of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will ensure that its competition laws, regulations, and progressively, procedures, administrative rulings of general application and judicial decisions of general application are promptly published or otherwise made available in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other Economies to become acquainted with them.
  2. In furtherance of paragraphs 4 and 5 of the General Principles of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will ensure that before it imposes a sanction or remedy against any person for violating its national competition law, it affords the person the right to be heard and to present evidence, except that it may provide for the person to be heard and present evidence within a reasonable time after it imposes an interim sanction or remedy; and that an independent court or tribunal imposes or, at the persons request, reviews any such sanction or remedy. Proceedings subject to this paragraph are to be in accordance with domestic law.
Transparency Standards on Regulatory Reform
  1. In furtherance of paragraph 1 of the General Principles of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will ensure that its laws, regulations, procedural rules and administrative rulings of general application relating to regulatory reform are promptly published or otherwise made available in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other economies to become acquainted with them.
  2. In furtherance of paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Leaders’ Statement, Economies recognize the importance of ensuring transparency in the regulatory reform process and of soliciting and responding to inquiries from interested persons and other Economies. Accordingly, each Economy will, where possible (a) publish in advance regulatory reform measures that it proposes to adopt, and (b) provide where applicable interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures. In addition, upon request from an interested person or another Economy, each Economy will endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed regulatory reform measure.
Confidential Information

Economies agree that nothing in these standards requires any Economy to disclose confidential information.2

D. Standards and Conformance
Introduction

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed that "APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so," and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the Subcommittee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) developed the following set of transparency standards for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement.

These principles flow from the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders at Los Cabos and the obligations of the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade and on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

Transparency Standards on Standards and Conformance

  1. In accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, and the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, each Economy will:
    (a) promptly publish or otherwise make available to all interested parties, through readily accessible, widely available media, for example via the Internet, information on its laws, regulations, policies, administrative rulings, certification, qualification and registration requirements, technical regulations, standards, guidelines, procedures and practices relating to standards and conformance; and,
    (b) have or designate an official journal or journals and publish in them information on technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and related conformity assessment procedures on a regular basis and make copies of them readily available to the public.
  2. As far as practicable, each Economy will maintain one centrally located website for the information referred to above.
  3. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement and the WTO TBT and SPS Agreements, each Economy will publish in advance any standards or conformance requirement that it proposes to adopt and provide interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures and take those comments into account before a final measure is adopted. Each Economy that is a WTO member will notify proposals to the WTO as required by the TBT and SPS Agreements.
  4. In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Leaders’ Statement, upon request from an interested person or another Economy, each Economy will endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed standards and conformance measure.
  5. Recognizing that standards and conformance measures can have an adverse impact on trade and development, each Economy will ensure that such measures are developed and administered in a transparent manner, and in compliance with WTO TBT/SPS obligations, as well as the APEC Guidelines for the Preparation, Adoption and Review of Technical Regulations, and the APEC SCSC Principles and Features of Good Practice for Technical Regulations so as to prevent the creation of unnecessary or arbitrary barriers to trade.
  6. Each Economy will promote awareness of and compliance with the transparency provisions of the WTO TBT and SPS Agreements.
  7. Each Economy that is a WTO Member will cooperate in the Triennial Reviews of the TBT Agreement to promote awareness of and compliance with the transparency provisions of the TBT Agreement, the APEC Guidelines for the Preparation, Adoption and Review of Technical Regulations, and the APEC SCSC Principles and Features of Good Practice for Technical Regulations.
  8. Each Economy will continue to provide updated information for the SCSC Contact List which is maintained on the APEC Secretariat’s website and includes a range of contacts for each economy relevant to standards and conformance activities.
  9. Each Economy will, as appropriate, promote the observance of these transparency standards by the regional and local governments, and non-governmental standardizing bodies within its territory.
E. Intellectual Property
Introduction

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed that "APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so," and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the Intellectual Property Experts Group (IPEG) developed the following set of transparency standards on intellectual property for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement.

These principles flow from the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders at Los Cabos, and provide specific guidance for implementation within an intellectual property context.

Transparency Standards on Intellectual Property

  1. In accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will promptly publish in its domestic language or otherwise make available its laws, regulations, and progressively, all procedures concerning the protection, including enforcement, of intellectual property rights in such a manner as to enable interested parties to become acquainted with them.
  2. Furthermore, each Economy will clarify procedures and practices regarding application, issuance, and registration of intellectual property rights by publishing the following information:
    (a) Clear and simple instructions, and an explanation of the steps involved regarding the application and registration process,
    (b) Examination guidelines and assessment criteria used to review an application for approval, if applicable,
    (c) Contact points for inquires on standards, technical regulations, and other requirements,
    (d) Provisions that are directed to SMEs.
  3. Each Economy will also provide a system for the registration of industrial property, which shall include:
    (a) Providing to the applicant a communication in writing, which may be electronic, of the reasons for any refusal to register a trademark or grant a patent;
    (b) Providing to the applicant an opportunity to respond to communications from the relevant government authorities, to contest an initial refusal, and to have a higher authority review any refusal to register a trademark or grant a patent;
    (c) An opportunity for interested parties to petition to oppose or to challenge a trademark or patent application or to seek cancellation after a trademark has been registered or a patent has been granted; and
    (d) A requirement that decisions in opposition or cancellation proceedings be reasoned and in writing.
  4. Each Economy will provide that final judicial decisions or administrative rulings, those where appeals are no longer possible, of general applicability pertaining to the protection, including enforcement, of intellectual property rights shall be communicated to the parties to the proceedings. Each Economy will also provide for publication of such decisions or rulings, or where such publication is not practicable, made publicly available, in a domestic language in such a manner as to enable governments and rights holders to become acquainted with them.
  5. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will, when possible, publish in advance any proposed changes to laws, regulations, and progressively, all procedures concerning the protection, including enforcement, of intellectual property rights, and provide where applicable interested persons a reasonable opportunity for public comment. Each Economy will also make available to all interested parties timely updates of changes to intellectual property law statutory regimes, including as appropriate via the APEC Secretariat.
  6. In addition to paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will conduct as appropriate periodic reviews of administrative regulations, rules, and procedures to ensure they are simplified, consistent, and transparent. Outstanding issues raised by the reviews will be resolved where possible in a timely manner.
  7. Where possible, each Economy will publish information on its efforts to provide effective enforcement of intellectual property rights in its civil, administrative and criminal system, including any statistical information that the Economy may collect for such purposes.
  8. Each Economy will conduct regular briefings in appropriate fora to provide updates on the status of intellectual property protection and enforcement as well as future policy direction, if appropriate
Confidential information

Nothing in the provisions of this statement shall require an Economy to disclose confidential information which would impede law enforcement or otherwise be contrary to the public interest or would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular enterprises, public or private.

F. Customs Procedures
Introduction

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed that "APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so," and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the United States proposes that the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures develop the following set of transparency standards on customs for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement.

The following customs transparency standards flow from, and are to be read consistently with, the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders in Los Cabos, and provide specific guidance for implementation within the customs context.

Transparency Standards on Customs Procedures

  1. In furtherance of paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy, will promptly publish and make available on the Internet, information on its customs laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings of general application in such a manner as to enable interested persons to become acquainted with them.
  2. In furtherance of paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will, to the extent possible, publish in advance any regulations of general application governing customs procedures proposed for adoption, and provide a reasonable opportunity for comments from interested persons.
  3. In furtherance of paragraph 4 of the Leaders’ Statement, and taking into account Economies’ individual circumstances, upon request from an interested person in its territory, each Economy wherever possible will provide for the issuance, of advance rulings based on specific facts and circumstances provided by such requester prior to the importation of a good into its territory, for areas such as:
    (a) tariff classification;
    (b) the application of the provisions set forth in the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation;
    (c) the application of duty drawback;
    (d) country of origin marking requirements;
    (e) the application of rules of origin under free trade agreements and other preferential tariff regimes; and
    (f) admissibility requirements.
  4. Subject to domestic confidentiality requirements, each Economy, will make such advance rulings publicly available for purposes of ensuring application of the rulings to other goods where the facts and circumstances are the same as those under which the rulings are issued.
  5. In furtherance of paragraph 5 of the Leaders’ Statement, where warranted each Economy will maintain procedural transparency and fairness in customs procedures by:
    (a) providing for the prompt review and correction of customs administrative actions;
    (b) ensuring that importers are provided with the right to a level of administrative review independent of the employee or office issuing the determination subject to review; and
    (c) maintaining the availability of judicial review of customs administrative determinations.
  6. Each Economy will, maintain one or several contact points to which interested parties can address questions concerning customs matters, and shall make available on the Internet information concerning the procedures for making such inquires.
G. Market Access
Introduction

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards ("Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005.

In paragraph 8 of the Leaders’ Statement, APEC Leaders instructed that "APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so," and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement. Accordingly, the Market Access Group developed the following set of transparency standards on market access for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement.

These principles flow from the General Principles on Transparency agreed to by APEC Leaders at Los Cabos, and provide specific guidance for implementation within a market access context.

Transparency Standards on Tariff and Non-Tariff Measures

  1. (a) In accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will promptly publish or otherwise make available to all interested parties, through readily accessible, widely available media (for example via the Internet), information on its laws, regulations, and progressively, procedures and administrative rulings relating to tariff and non-tariff measures.
    (b) Such information could include publication of the following measures:
    1. tariff schedules, with current applied tariff rates, on the Internet;
    2. details of preferential tariff programs;
    3. tariff rates applicable under Free Trade Agreements and Regional Trade Agreements; and
    4. NTMs maintained by member economies.
  2. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement, when possible each Economy will endeavour to publish in advance any tariff or non-tariff measure that it proposes to adopt, and provide interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures.
  3. In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Leaders’ Statement, upon request from an interested person or another Economy, each Economy will endeavour to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed measures referred to in paragraph 1 above.
  4. Each Economy will endeavour to ensure that non-tariff measures are administered in a transparent manner, so as to mitigate their effect on the trade and development of other Economies.
  5. Each Economy that is a WTO Member will, where possible, provide information on non-tariff measures when requested by other WTO Members in the context of the WTO negotiations on market access and will participate actively in these negotiations as they move forward.
  6. Each Economy that is a WTO Member will comply with notification procedures under the WTO Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures.
  7. Each Economy that is a WTO Member will submit its updated tariff data (both bound, and, where possible, current applied) and trade data to the WTO Integrated Data Base on a timely basis. Economies in the process of acceding to the WTO will, where possible, submit current applied tariff and trade data to the WTO Integrated Data Base. Each economy will also submit current applied tariff data to the APEC tariff database in a timely manner.
  8. Each Economy will provide to the APEC Secretariat for inclusion on the website of the Market Access Group (MAG) links to individual government websites, including, where possible, links to specific officials responsible for developing, administering, implementing and/or enforcing policies related to tariff and non-tariff measures. Each Economy further agrees to provide current information on import regulations for the MAG’s Import Regulation website. Each Economy will also provide as much information as possible on rules and procedures, and details of enquiry points, in its e-Individual Action Plan.
H. Business Mobility
Introduction

Since its inception, the APEC Business Mobility Group (BMG) has recognized that transparent and predictable business mobility procedures are essential to a stable and open trading regime. As a consequence many BMG initiatives have facilitated openness, transparency and information exchange in an effort to ensure that APEC members make immigration measures (new and amended, including those in international agreements) publicly available to all interested parties. Economies have provided up to date, information on rules and procedures governing temporary residency, processing standards and contact points in the APEC Business Travel Handbook and have shared information on immigration legislation, trade agreements, policies and technologies on the BMG web site.

On 27 October 2002, in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC Leaders adopted the "Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards" (hereinafter referred to as the "Leaders’ Statement"), and directed that these standards be implemented as soon as possible, and in no case later than January 2005. In paragraph 8 APEC Leaders instructed that "APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so," and further instructed that such new transparency provisions should be presented to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into the Leaders’ Statement.

The following Business Mobility Standards relate to immigration laws, regulations, policies, administrative rulings, procedures and practices related to the temporary entry and stay of business persons, at the pre-arrival, entry, stay and departure phases.

Transparency Standards on Business Mobility

Publication and Access

  1. In accordance with paragraph 1 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will promptly publish or otherwise make available to all interested parties, through readily accessible, widely available media, for example via the Internet, information on its immigration laws, regulations, policies, and progressively, administrative rulings of general application, procedures and practices as they relate to business persons, collectively referred to as "immigration measures". Economies will ensure that immigration regulations and requirements based on policy are clear, concise, current, simple, transparent and readily available, and meet applicable Standards for Pre-Arrival and Entry and will:
    (a) Provide user-friendly application forms, instructions and reference materials.

    Consultation
  2. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Leaders’ Statement, each Economy will, when possible, publish in advance using the media and other mechanisms as appropriate proposed immigration measures that might affect business mobility and where applicable provide interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures. Such measures should include:
    (a) A set of rules and regulations that provide sanctions for the production, sale and use of fraudulent documents;
    (b) Effective rules and regulations that are precise in specifying what constitutes document fraud and what the sanctions are for producing, selling or using fraudulent documents; support inspectors, investigators and prosecutors in apprehending and taking action against fraudulent document producers, vendors and users; and promote business facilitation as well as protect the country's inhabitants;
    (c) In respect to professional service, a comprehensive Code(s) of Conduct that sets out in very practical terms the behavior expected of all immigration officials, including employee's responsibilities, service policies and standards, clear guidance and practical examples, and that is developed in consultation with internal and external stakeholders as appropriate; and
    (d) Mechanisms for reporting or filing complaints on code of conduct breaches without fear of reprisal or prejudice.

    Information Services
  3. In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Leaders’ Statement, upon request from an interested person or another Economy, each Economy will endeavor when possible to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed immigration measures and will provide:
    (a) Points of inquiry for business persons or businesses with questions;
    (b) Simple, quick and user-friendly application processes with clear information and instructions on requirements relating to any exemptions, fees and charges;
    (c) Information that is easily accessible to internal/external stakeholders (Customer Help Desks/Call Centres or Industry Consultative Committees, Internet, displays and signs); and
    (d) Where appropriate, will provide mechanisms so that stakeholders' service charters are developed which clearly state the level of service they can expect, and are displayed in public areas such as airports, Immigration offices and overseas missions.

    Decision Making
  4. In accordance with paragraph 4 of the Leaders' Statement, each Economy will ensure that immigration measures are administered in a transparent manner, including, wherever possible, reasonable notice in accordance with domestic procedure when a proceeding is initiated, and an opportunity to present facts and arguments in support of their positions, when time, the nature of the proceeding, and the public interest permit, and that the procedure is in accordance with domestic law. Economies shall
    (a) Strive for transparency in decision-making that is based on an economy's prevailing employment and immigration policies and procedures and, where applicable, provide decisions that are in writing and denials that provide reasons based on requirements and information on any right of appeal or waivers;
    (b) Strive for reasonable processing times for decision-making in an effort to avoid unnecessary delay or uncertainty on the part of business travelers;
    (c) Ensure that decisions are consistent with published guidelines and requirements through regular quality control reviews;
    (d) Ensure that employees are trained in decision-making procedures and have access to current written guidelines and instructions relating to interpretation of regulations and laws;
    (e) Ensure that authority to make decisions includes appropriate checks and balances, and is strictly controlled to prevent abuse of power;
    (f) Provide periodic review mechanism of systems and procedures to ensure uniformity and consistency in decision making; reviews undertaken in consultation with employees to eliminate "red tape;"
    (g) Develop and implement mechanisms which monitor and evaluate the organization's performance against established service standards;
    (h) To the extent possible, have a system in place for monitoring consistency between different offices, provinces or regions concerning decisions, procedures and information provided;
    (i) Where appropriate, clearly define and make publicly available the basis or criteria upon which discretionary power is exercised by officials; and
    (j) To the extent possible, convey reasons for decisions to applicants and document grounds for decisions clearly and retain these for monitoring and review.

    Review
  5. In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Leaders' Statement and its own immigration laws, where warranted, each Economy will provide procedures that are simple, consistent, and easily accessible for review and appeal of immigration decisions and, where warranted, prompt correction of final administrative actions, regarding immigration measures which provide parties to the proceeding with a reasonable opportunity to present their respective positions, a decision based on the evidence and submissions in the administrative record, tribunals or panels that are impartial and independent of any office or authority entrusted with administrative enforcement and have no substantial interest in the outcome of the matter, and implementation of the final decision. To ensure transparent administrative regulations and decision-making, Immigration Administrations shall have
    (a) To the extent possible, objective performance standards for managers to ensure compliance and accountability for the Standards on Professional Conduct;
    (b) To the extent possible, guidelines and policies that clearly state management responsibilities in employee development and in the promotion and monitoring of ethical practices and integrity; and
    (c) Selection criteria for managerial positions that include demonstrated ability to accept responsibility and accountability for implementation of the Standards on Professional Conduct.


1 Economies in accession to the WTO accept the area-Specific Transparency Standards on the understanding that this will neither influence the outcome of their on-going WTO accession negotiations nor prejudge the results of the relevant WTO negotiations.
2 The Leaders’ Statement includes a provision for the protection of confidential information. This statement is included here to emphasize the importance of the protection of confidential information in the contexts of both competition law and policy and regulatory reform.