PECC Standing Committee Meeting

Washington, D.C., United States, 23 April 2003
  • Speech by Ambassador Mario Artaza, APEC Secretariat, Deputy Executive Director
Mr. Chairman,
First of all, I would like to thank PECC as well as the United States government for the warm hospitality and reception accorded to me.
Today I am speaking to you on behalf of the Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Ambassador Piamsak Milintachinda who sends his fond regards to you all.
Being here at this PECC meeting is like being with family.
For we in APEC view PECC not only as a supporter, but very much as a partner in the APEC process.
So today I would like to give you an overview of the latest developments taking place in APEC.
I will discuss the recent accomplishments of APEC, and give you a better idea of APEC's priorities and themes for this year.
Trade Facilitation
As the regional economy has become increasingly complex and integrated over recent years, the role of APEC has expanded.
Despite our increased areas of activity, trade facilitation continues to be one of the most important objectives for APEC leaders, Ministers, Senior Officials and all others participating in the APEC process.
At their meeting in Los Cabos last year, APEC Leaders and Ministers agreed to a number of initiatives to promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.
These initiatives include a Trade Facilitation Plan which aims to reduce transaction costs by five percent across the APEC region over the next five years.
This initiative alone will deliver great benefits for the region.
Our estimate is that a five percent reduction in transaction costs will result in an increase in trade of around US$280 billion annually.
This five percent reduction in transaction costs will not only reduce the costs of doing business, but will stimulate jobs, growth and provide greater choice to consumers.
Another major aspect of the Trade Facilitation Plan is the APEC Leaders' Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards.
This initiative will provide business and investors with comprehensive and straight forward information on the rules and regulations that are particular to each APEC member economy.
This will take a lot of the confusion out of trading across borders, give clarity to the private sector and provide an excellent tool to business operators.
In the longer term a process for harmonizing these standards is now being developed under the leadership of the Committee on Trade and Investment.
Counter-Terrorism
An area that has become increasingly important for APEC in the past two years is counter terrorism.
One of the greatest threats to our regional economy and APEC's free trade goals is posed by terrorists.
This threat relates both to the direct damage suffered by the people and infrastructure of our region when terrorists strike, and to the costs of protecting the region from the potential of further strikes.
Since the APEC Leaders' meeting in Shanghai in 2001 and then through the Mexico year, APEC has paid a lot of attention to combating terrorism as it relates to trade and investment, resulting in a number of initiatives in this area.
In February APEC Senior Officials endorsed the Counter-Terrorism Action Plan and established the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force.
A Chair has recently been appointed to the Counter-Terrorism Task Force, Ambassador Makarim Wibisono from Indonesia.
Under Dr. Makarim's leadership the task force will coordinate the implementation of the Leaders' 2002 Statement on "Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth."
The Counter-Terrorism Task Force will also be involved in developing real reforms in specific areas. These include:
  • Protecting cargoes and ships on international voyages,
  • Protecting international aviation,
  • Protecting people in transit,
  • Halting the financing of terrorism, and
  • Promoting cyber-security.
The end result of APEC's Counter-Terrorism activities is that people in our region will be safer and business confidence is boosted. As a side benefit to developing new measures to safely move people, goods and services across borders, we have found that these new measures that often involve the introduction of new technologies also increase the overall efficiency of trade across borders.
WTO
As a grouping of economies that account for almost half of the world's trade, APEC makes an important contribution to work of the WTO.
In the past year this has involved our contributions for the successful launch of the WTO Doha Development Agenda.
In the year ahead APEC will have an even better opportunity to contribute to the WTO Doha Development Agenda.
In June the Ministers Responsible for Trade in APEC economies will meet in Khon Kaen, Thailand.
This will be the last major meeting of trade ministers to take place prior to the 5th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the year.
One of the great strengths of the APEC process is that our activities are driven by APEC Leaders and Ministers and bringing together ministers responsible for trade prior to the WTO's Cancun meeting is very timely.
It will give APEC an opportunity to provide direct input to the final preparatory phase for the Cancun meeting and the chance to help shape some positive outcomes.
In preparation for Cancun APEC has reactivated its Geneva Caucus. At the same time APEC fora have been encouraged to increase their understanding of WTO issues. We are anticipating that in the following years there will be increased participation from APEC economies in WTO capacity building programs.
ECOTECH  
In our efforts to enhance members' capacity to benefit from the APEC process, the APEC economic and technical cooperation agenda, or ECOTECH agenda, remains a priority for APEC.
This is particularly the case for developing economies where adjusting to the complexities of the contemporary global economy can cause difficulties.
In order to provide an up-to-date strategic focus and roadmap for the future APEC Ecotech agenda, APEC is increasingly concentrating Ecotech efforts on the following four priority areas over the next few years:
  • Integration into the Global Economy,
  • Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building,
  • Promoting the Development of Knowledge-Based Economies, and
  • Addressing the Social Dimension of Globalization.
This short list reflects the complementary and cross-cutting nature of projects provided for under the Ecotech agenda.
The Ecotech agenda is highly beneficial for people in the developing areas of APEC economies. It produces tangible results in the form of building the capacity and skills for people to participate in the global economy.
We look forward to seeing the ongoing implementation of the Ecotech agenda in the months and years ahead.
APEC 2003 Themes and Priorities

As the host of the current APEC year, Thailand has provided the series of themes and sub-themes that are guiding the work of APEC throughout 2003.
This year the central theme is:
"A World of Differences: Partnership for the Future." 
This theme is all about bringing together the diverse and individual strengths of all APEC members and using these individual strengths to build a stronger regional economy.
This year there are five sub-themes that support the idea of benefiting from our diversity. These include:
  • Expanding the Knowledge-Based Economy in the region by overcoming the digital divide and expanding access to information and communications technology.
  • Promoting Human Security by empowering people to be more active and self-reliant. This is to be achieved by raising skill levels through capacity building programs and expanding opportunities for human resources development, while at the same time strengthening social safety nets.
  • Building more sound and secure Financial Architecture for our regional economy. This requires the private and public sector to adopt best practices in corporate governance and financial regulations through improved transparency and structural reforms.
  • Integrating Small to Medium Enterprises and Micro-Businesses into APEC's trade and investment mainstream. These new growth enterprises can be assisted through the reduction of red tape to make it less complicated and costly to trade across borders.
  • Acting on Development Pledge is the final sub-theme and it is all about APEC member economies implementing commitments already made to the global economy through forums such as the WTO.
Conclusion
Finally Mr. Chairman, I would like to conclude by restating APEC's ongoing support and appreciation of our relationship with PECC.
APEC and PECC have a long standing history of cooperation and collaboration. This is complemented by PECC's role as a non-government observer to the APEC process. PECC also works with APEC at a number of different levels, including our overlapping membership in ABAC.
APEC attaches great importance to PECC's work and substantive contributions to the APEC process. This is particularly so because of PECC's unique tripartite perspective and diverse expertise.
APEC is particularly keen to work closely with PECC this year on a number of areas. These include:
  • The development of principles for APEC-consistent Free Trade Agreements, which PECC is leading,
  • The monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the e-APEC Strategy, and
  • Synergy with PECC's community-building activities.
Mr. Chairman, if our past record of collaboration is any indication, our regional community can have every reason to be optimistic about the future of our cooperation.
We in APEC are committed to building upon this firm foundation, and we are certainly looking forward to a more extensive and fruitful relationship with PECC in the many years to come.
Finally Mr. Chairman, my congratulations to the Director General and the PECC staff of the excellent organization of these meetings.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.