3rd APEC Ministers' Conference On Regional Science & Technology Cooperation

Mexico City, Mexico, 21 October 1998
  • Remarks by Ambassador Dato' Noor Adlan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
It is my honor to be given the floor at his time of this 3rd APEC Ministers' Conference on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation. My appreciation to the organizers and at the same time to congratulate the government of Mexico not only for the warm hospitality extended but the manner in which this conference is being structured, organized and received. This ensures that it meets with the objectives and results in the success of this meeting.
As Executive Directors of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to formally report to you on the salient developments in APEC during the two years since your meeting in Seoul in October 1996. They included, interalia:
  • Cooperation towards realising the Bogor goals to proceed on two tracks. The Individual Action Plans (IAPs) and the Collective Action Plans (CAPs).
The IAPs are plans for unilateral measures that are taken domestically be each member according to its own timetable. They are dynamic and rolling plans which are subject to revisions and improvements. IAPs cover 15 different categories of agreed action including traditional market access issues such as reduction and removal of tariffs and elimination of WTO-inconsistent non-tariff measures and greater transparency in investment regimes. IAPs also include other measures of benefit to investors and traders such as ensuring effective protection of intellectual property rights, increasing awareness of dispute mediation, services, encouraging wider competition and opening government procurement markets.
APEC's trade agenda encompasses much more than lowering tariffs. It is by facilitating trade that APEC is making its most immediate contribution to the regional economy. The CAPs which are jointly pursued by all members according to the same timetable, seek to facilitate business. APEC's facilitation work covers a wide range of trade issues, from customs and standards to government procurement and intellectual property rights, to business mobility and access to information and deregulation.
  • Opening of another secondary route to trade liberalisation via Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalisation (EVSL) in 15 sectors, of which 9 sectors are being fast tracked for implementation from 1999. At this stage, all parties are still making their best efforts to achieve a more substantive EVSL package. This exercise represents goods estimated at USD 1.5 trillion with tariff reduction to 0-5%.
  • Adoption of the Ministers' Declaration on APEC Framework for Strengthening Economic Cooperation and Development.
This APEC agenda is important to reduce economic disparities among member economies and social well being and to attain sustainable growth and equitable development. Leaders identified 6 priority areas:
  • Developing Human Capital
  • Fostering Safe and Efficient Capital Market
  • Strengthening Economic Infrastructure
  • Harnessing Technology for the Future
  • Promote Environmentally Sustainable Development
  • Encouraging the Growth of SMEs
Malaysia, APEC Chair of this year, has put great emphasis on the Ecotech agenda with a focus on capacity-building development and empowerment, particularly on Human Resource Development and harnessing Technology for the Future. The recently formed SOM Sub-Committee on Ecotech is to help Senior Officials Meeting to strengthen coordination on APEC Ecotech activities with a view to producing concrete and beneficial results for APEC constituents.
  • Leaders agreed that E-Commerce is one of the most important technology breakthroughs of this decade. Towards this an APEC E-Commerce work program has been worked out for the Annual Ministerial Meeting of this year with a view to promoting a predictable and consistent legal and regulatory environment that will enable all APEC members to reap benefits from E-Commerce.
  • Emergency preparedness, including infection disease. The APEC trade exhibition in Kuala Lumpur during the period of the November meetings will include exhibition relating to emergency preparedness.
  • Greater outreach to the interested stakeholders of APEC, in particular the business community.
  • Reform of the APEC management process. Given the tremendous expansion in the structure and activities of APEC, it is necessary to periodically review it estimate in the light of the financial and personal resource cost of member economies, whether it is structured appropriately to accomplish its tasks. Malaysia together with New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam, incoming Chairs of 1991 and 2000 respectively, will lead this drive.
  • Leaders devoted much of their attention to the financial and stock-market turmoil at their meeting in Vancouver. As you are aware, this crisis has deepened and taken on a larger and multi-crisis dimension. It has become a global crisis, and Leaders will revisit this issue, and the necessary inputs from some of the APEC sectoral Ministerial Meetings and other APEC fora have been made from their particular perspectives.
In taking cognizance of these developments, it is hoped this meeting would be better able to contribute in the integration of your activities to the larger APEC process.
I am pleased to note that the main topic of this conference "Partnerships and Networks: Capturing the benefits of Innovation Across APEC" is striking at the core of the call of the Leaders at Vancouver. As the world continues to undergo rapid change, it has become more apparent that all members and segments of society of the Asia-Pacific region need to work together to enhance prosperity and well being. APEC is built on partnership. Its long term success will depend on continued creativity and innovation which may benefit from a sustained dialogue and engagement with interested stakeholders.
Science and Technology must be about people and for people. The two activities of the IST Working Group, the 2nd APEC Technomart in Chinese Taipei with its theme "Innovation and Collaboration: Sustainable Economic Development" and the 1st APEC Science Youth Festival held in Seoul last August with the theme "Science and Communication: Enjoy science with friends" which I am fortunate to attend could not have better graphically portrayed this point.
Given the wide coverage of participation and the scope of products on display at Technomart II, it was truly a technology market place. It provided inter-disciplinary connection opportunities to do business and engender cooperation among member economies, especially in technology transfer and investment in industrial science.
The APEC Youth Science Festival could also be seen as a direct response to our Leader's affirmation in Vancouver that "Continued prosperity in technology region will depend on our willingness and our ability to vest the next generation of leaders in the region with the skills and knowledge they require". The empowerment is essential and so must the acquiring of that knowledge be more user-friendly as we move into the knowledge-based information society.
As part of forging the networking, this Conference and your officials have enhanced the relevance of APEC by incorporating youth and women issues in the area of science and technology. I had attended the first meeting of the APEC Ministers on women in Manila last week. While it commended this Conference for having recognized the "importance of removing barriers and promoting the full contribution of women to science and technology as essential element in meeting APEC's goal of achieving sustainable and equitable development" as well as the need to strengthen "the exchange of scientific and technical men and women across the region", the APEC Ministers' Meeting on women also addressed some of its specific concern on "severe under-representation of women in science and technology". It furthermore suggested that "... special effort to improve the recruitment and retention of women in science and technology be included as part of the proposed APEC Agenda for Science and Technology for Industry Cooperation into the 21st Century."
This 3rd APEC Ministers' Conference on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation could not have been convened at a more appropriate time given the growing role of science and technology in promoting growth and its close linkages to trade and investment flows. The economic crisis added a dimension to the situation. It could not but adversely impact, in particular on the infrastructure development for science and technology in some member economies with its necessary accompanying budgetary austerity that needs to be emplaced.
Ministers have been directed to formulate an APEC Agenda for Science and Technology Industry Cooperation into the 21st Century, which is to be presented to Leaders in Kuala Lumpur. Tremendous efforts have been executed at various levels and your officials in the IST Working Group had played a pivotal role. I understand you will hear a report on this matter and have a full discussion on it.
Much as the economic crisis in all its ramifications will occupy the Leaders Meeting, the on-going APEC activities, in particular the specific results and deliverable from such APEC forum like this Conference is what will also make the difference and in giving value added. Many activities have been embarked by the IST process, which have in one way or another contributed to the achievements of APEC goals. And in this time of adversity, much more is expected. For industrial science and technology is not just a dynamo in providing a cutting edge in catalyzing and fostering growth and equitable development towards building and nurturing a sense of community in the Asia-Pacific region.
I look forward to a productive and successful meeting.
Thank you.