Fourth APEC Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministerial Meeting

Kumamoto, Japan, 28 September 2001
  • Report By Ambassador Zhang Yan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Ladies and Gentlemen
(Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the APEC Secretariat to share grief with our American colleagues over the recent tragedy in the United States. My condolences to all, both American and other nationalities, who have lost their loved ones.)
I would like to begin with thanking our generous hosts, Kumamoto Prefectural Government and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan for the excellent arrangements and hospitality accorded to us. The 4th HRDMM is one of the major events this year which has attracted much interest from APEC member economies. Its outcomes will undoubtedly contribute towards meeting APEC goals and main themes of China year, and constitutes an important deliverable to the upcoming Leaders' meeting in Shanghai in October.
On behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I am pleased to present this report to you, which summarizes instructions from the APEC Economic Leaders and Ministers as well as activities being undertaken in other APEC fora which most relate to HRD and the agenda of this meeting.
Without further ado, please allow me to highlight the main elements of the report.
Last year APEC Leaders launched a wide-ranging Action Agenda for the new economy that outlined programs to help member economies to meet the challenges and share the benefits of globalization and new economy. In light of this, HRD has been identified by our Leaders as one of the effective means to attain this goal.
One of the important initiatives approved by our Leaders in this respect was the High Level Meeting on Human Capacity Building (HCB) initiated by Brunei and China. It was set out to develop a more integrated approach to human capacity building through closer involvement of its stakeholders: the public, business, education and training sectors. The Meeting was held in Beijing, China in May 2001 and crowned with success, which laid the foundation for enhanced human capacity building work in APEC based on this tripartite model. Meanwhile, initiatives were also launched to develop and implement the cooperation in Cyber Education and Skills Development.
At the sectoral Ministerial Meetings level, a priority has been accorded to HRD as an integral part of their respective agenda.
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade met in Shanghai, China endorsed projects arising from the APEC Strategic Plan on Capacity Building to strengthen economies' capacity in implementing WTO agreements. They also welcomed the Beijing Initiatives, particularly the key areas focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, life-long learning and ICT.
SME Ministers who met in Shanghai, last August explored issues faced by SMEs in the new economy. They identified that the strengthening of capacity building was one of the major ways to enhance SMEs' adaptability to the new economy. Ministers welcomed the Evolving Cooperation Initiative for SMEs and New Business Support, and were pleased with the contributions made by Japan in the area of management and skills development for the past two years.
APEC Finance Ministers who met in Suzhou, China recently launched a new programme to strengthen capacity building activities among member economies especially in the fields of finance and economic development.
As for activities in other APEC fora, the HRD-related activities within APEC cuts across all sectors. The SOM Sub-Committee on Ecotech (ESC) is developing the HCB Strategy defining the objectives, priorities and principles for APEC to respond to the challenges of the new environment. The launch of the Ecotech Action Plans on HRD will enable member economies to share their experience in HCB activities. The e-APEC Task Force will deliver a forward-looking and more action-oriented e-APEC strategy focusing on human capacity building and narrowing the digital divide. The Committee on Trade and Investment's (CTI) continues its HCB work in areas such as standards and conformance, customs, intellectual property rights, investment, among others. CTI is also advancing the APEC Strategy to strengthen members' capacity in implementing WTO agreements. The Economic Committee's (EC) research activities contribute much to ongoing work in APEC such as those relating to the new economy.
As for the Working Groups, it is evident that HRD is an essential component of their respective work programs. For example, distance learning via ICT is pursued in the Telecommunications and Information Working Group. The Marine Resources Conservation Working Group currently conducts its APEC Marine Environmental Training and Education Program. The Transportation Working Group is pursuing training programs on Aviation Law and on Competency Standards for Perishable Goods Handling. The Trade Promotion Working Group is conducting training activities on Building Skills in Marketing Strategy. The Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group provides for capacity building towards embracing new technologies in biotechnology.
The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) in its recommendations to Leaders this year placed emphasis on improving the business and investment climate in the APEC region. A key message from ABAC is that capacity building is part of a balanced approach to globalization.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Activities across APEC have illustrated HRD's cross-cutting nature and highlighted its crucial role in promoting APEC objectives and achieving common prosperity for APEC people. This Ministerial Meeting is held at most timely juncture. The directives and guidance from this meeting will surely further advance APEC cooperation in the area of HRD.
As Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to assure you that we will continue to provide our utmost support to achieve the identified goals in the area of HRD.
Thank you for your attention, and I wish you a fruitful and successful meeting.