High Level Conference of the APEC-OECD Co-operative Initiative on Regulatory Reform

Cheju Island, Korea, 17 October 2002
  • Speech by Ambassador Piamsak Milintachinda, Deputy Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Your Excellency Prime Minister Kim Suk Soo, Secretary-General Johnston, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
The increased connectivity between people and economies, particularly during the last century, has helped build our global economy, it has increased trade and enhanced the lives of our citizens.
Each day our people contribute to economic growth by taking part in the trade of goods and services - both in the domestic market and across the borders of our economies.
By trading across our borders we strengthen domestic economies, we facilitate the environment for increased competition and erode monopolies, and we provide the prospect of choice to business and personal consumers. But most importantly, increased trade and exchange translates directly into job creation and higher living standards.
However, despite progress in breaking down explicit barriers to trade, and despite advances in technology, communications and transport, we still have a lot more work to do in harmonizing the regulatory systems that govern and safeguard our societies.
Some of the main obstacles to facilitating more open trade arise from a lack of information on best practices in deregulation.
Red tape, bureaucratic confusion and process incompatibilities between regulatory regimes inhibit the flow of goods and services. These complications undermine investment potential and in the end hamper economic growth.
This lack of regulatory cohesion comes at great cost to the men, women and children of our economies. Our people pay more for goods and services, face diminished employment prospects and do not enjoy the opportunities to reach their full economic potential.
For recipient-investment economies the dangers are even more troublesome. Restrictive regulations undermine the ability of an economy to attract the foreign direct investment required to build industries and create jobs.
For us at APEC, economic deregulation lies at the heart of the goals stated in the Bogor declaration that was adopted in Indonesia in 1993. This declaration laid out our goal to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The target year of 2010 was set for developed member economies, and 2020 for developing member economies.
Since the adoption of these goals, APEC economies have agreed on a number of measures to enable us to meet the 2010/2020 goals, and facilitate open and fair trade.
For example, the APEC Competition Policy and Deregulation Group was created to formulate a more coordinated approach for member economies, and to share information, research and dialogue. There were two reasons for this: Firstly, to increase the transparency of existing competition policies and deregulation processes, and secondly, to provide advice on implementing competition and deregulation policies within our region.
In harmonizing regulations between economies there is clearly a balance that must be struck. Many of the regulations that are in place are there for the social protection of our people. Certainly in the past some regulations were implemented as a barrier to competition, while some regulations are just outdated relics of the past. It is these latter examples that must be removed, while the regulations designed for social protection are harmonized between our economies.
The APEC-OECD Co-operative Initiative on Regulatory Reform supports this very purpose.
These three workshops have strengthened the already healthy relationship between the OECD and APEC at an institutional level. They have also provided an avenue for the exchange of valuable information and dialogue on the reform experiences of OECD and APEC member economies.
From an APEC perspective, a core function of our operations involves enhancing capacity building efforts to assist the current deregulation process within each member economy. Through these workshops we hope to identify more of the tools required to dismantle regulatory inconsistencies and impediments.
Besides being an indispensable activity to achieve APEC's free and open trade and investment goals, the APEC-OECD Co-operative Initiative also contributes to the Strengthening the Functioning of Markets mandate from APEC Leaders.
This mandate was based on the understanding that the more competitive and transparent a market is, the less distorted it could potentially become. This concept implies that in a competitive environment, open observation of the main variables will provide accurate information for investors, producers, consumers and government.
This will result in more accurate and accountable decisions on investment, production, consumption and industry regulation. This is particularly true for small and medium enterprises which often lack the resources to compete in an environment of stifling regulations.
Since 2001, APEC has supported our joint APEC-OECD workshops by providing resources and funding from the Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation special account.
For 2003, Mexico has already submitted a project proposal through the proper channel in APEC so that we may continue these workshops over the following year. This funding has since been approved from working level to the Senior Official level, and we anticipate will be approved by APEC Ministers next week in Los Cabos, Mexico.
At APEC, we look forward to the next round of meetings and workshops to be held as part of this Co-Operative Initiative. There is a great wealth of knowledge and ideas we can all share based on our collective experience.
The potential we have before us at this forum is great. All delegates to this series of meetings and workshops, from many economies around the world, have worked together to effectively identify regulatory impediments to trade. Now the task before us is to act on the issues we have identified, and to implement programmes to overcome what we describe as "distortions of economic potential." One of the best ways we can do this is to continue to build on the strong working relationship that has developed between the APEC and OECD groups of economies.
We are confident that these APEC-OECD meetings and workshops have identified actions and initiatives that will deliver real benefits. These benefits will have real meaning for business people, investors and the more than three billion people who live in our combined economies.
Thank you.