4th APEC Ministers' Meeting on Regional Science & Technology Cooperation

Christchurch, New Zealand, 11 March 2004
  • Ambassador Mario Artaza, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat

Mr. Chairman, Ministers and delegates, it is my great honor and pleasure to attend this 4th APEC Ministers' Meeting on Regional Science and Technology.

I would like to congratulate New Zealand for successfully convening this first of 10 ministerial meetings that are scheduled for the 2004 APEC Year. This series of Ministerial Meetings is clear proof that we are really working to establish "One Community" which is "Our Future" as stated in the main theme for the APEC 2004 Year hosted by Chile.

This meeting here in Christchurch provides Ministers with a valuable opportunity to discuss the implications for our region of the dramatic advances in science and technology over recent years. This meeting will set new policy direction for the regional development of science and technology in the coming years and continue the work of the last Science and Technology Ministers' Meeting six years ago in Mexico.

The declaration from the Mexico meeting gave priority to the development of partnerships and networks. It also endorsed and recognized the importance of the APEC Agenda for Science and Technology Industry Cooperation for the 21st Century, which drew from the earlier directive by APEC Leaders' to formulate an APEC Agenda for the 21st Century.

This Agenda established the guidelines for APEC Member Economies to work toward the APEC vision of "a dynamic and prosperous Asia-Pacific region built on the development and application of industry science and technology." These science and technology priorities were identified as essential for supporting economic growth and improving the quality of life for people in the APEC Region. The Agenda also highlighted the importance of developments in the science and technology sector for safeguarding the region's environment and natural resources that are essential for economic sustainability. These two documents, the Agenda and the Declaration, have set the direction for the development of science and technology in APEC region for following years.

As we begin this meeting, I would like to provide ministers with a picture of APEC's contribution to the development of the regional science and technology sector.

In the APEC process the APEC Industry Science and Technology Working Group is the main fora responsible for promoting science and technology activities. Over recent years, this Working Group has completed a series of initiatives in response to the policy direction laid out by Ministers and Leaders. One of the important developments in this process has been the finalization of the Industry Science and Technology Working Group Medium-term Work Plan. This Work Plan identified issues for the future activities of the Working Group.

It includes measures to encourage greater links between research and innovation, human capacity building initiatives for science and technology in the new economy and establishing an APEC Science and Technology Policy Forum.

Following the release of this work plan, the first APEC Science and Technology Forum was held in 2001. The theme of the forum was "Building scientific and technological capacity across APEC to participate in the new economy."

At the forum, four key issues were addressed relating to enhancing and developing science and technology networks in the APEC region and the strengthening of technological cooperation.

It is clear that APEC Fora working on science and technology issues have been given clear direction and related activities have been implemented accordingly.

Some examples of project implementation may be helpful to demonstrate the progress made by the Industry Science and Technology Working Group.

The establishment and ongoing improvement of the Working Group's website is a worthy demonstration of committed effort to improve science and technology cooperation through a network.

This network has proven successful in enhancing cooperation, sharing information and establishing linkage among different science and technology sectors. In the area of building cooperation with the business sector, different activities conducted by APEC Member Economies have worked to improving cooperation. Examples of this Member Economy support include the APEC Science and Technology Industrial Parks Network, the Technomart, the workshop on business incubation, the information flow improvement for business incubator and a science youth festival. With the implementation of these projects, many goals on human capacity building and connecting research and innovation have been achieved.

In recent years, the development of APEC initiatives on science and technology has undergone a period of defining themes and principles while identifying specific issues for members to take action.

One of objectives of the APEC process is to enhance cooperation and thereby reduce the economic and capacity disparities among member economies. The development of the science and technology sector is central for the development of the human resources needed to harness the potential offered by the knowledge-based economies of tomorrow.

For the 2004 APEC year hosted by Chile, the theme is, as I have stated, "One Community, Our Future".

Within this theme, Chile has identified a series of five sub-themes to guide the work of APEC fora throughout the year:

  • These begin with APEC as a catalyst in the multilateral trading system and by creating the necessary momentum in Geneva, to assist in reviving the negotiations necessary to conclude the WTO Doha Development Agenda;
  • Secondly, the institutionalization of FTAs and RTAs in APEC. This calls for APEC to undertake further study and discussion on the role FTAs and RTAs can play in achieving the Bogor Goals;
  • Third, trade facilitation focused on trade and security. This involves the continuation of work on APEC's security agenda, in particular, assisting developing economies meet the increased burden that enhanced security imposes on them;
  • The fourth sub-theme, development of micro enterprises. This involves increasing the participation of SMEs and micro-enterprises in global trade. Part of this process includes strengthening the use of the English language as a working tool and increasing the number of English speakers in many economies;
  • Finally, the 2004 sub-theme relating to the international financial architecture. This calls for continuing work to ensure that the region's economic prosperity is underpinned by efficient and stable financial institutions].

The theme and sub-themes developed by the host economy of each APEC Year are important for the ongoing evolution of the APEC process and have direct relevance for the activities of APEC fora.

I hope the concept identified by Chile on the need to strengthen our community will prove to be useful in the work of fora contributing to the development of the science and technology sector.

We expect that advancing the science and technology capacity of the APEC Region will promote economic growth and facilitate greater efficiency in the area of trade and investment facilitation, the main goals of our organization.

In this meeting ministers will consider the next steps for APEC's contribution to regional science and technology development. Ministers in this new phase may wish to explore new directions for members to meet the challenges of this rapidly developing sector and develop new approaches for dealing with emerging issues.

Regardless of which direction Ministers choose to take this process, APEC's continued high level involvement in science and technology initiatives and issues is of great benefit to people in all APEC Member Economies.

The result of this ministerial meeting will be a major deliverable for the 2004 APEC Year, and the APEC Secretariat is at the service of Ministers and Economies to support the implementation the declaration and initiatives that come from your discussions.

I wish you a successful meeting in this beautiful and friendly place, New Zealand.