Opening Ceremony of the 2nd APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum

Qingdao, People's Republic of China, 18 May 2006
  • Speech by Ambassador Tran Trong Toan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Honorable Mr. Shi Guangsheng, Member of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress, Vice Chairman of the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress,
Hon. Liao Xiaoqi, Vice-Minister of Commerce,
Hon. Mr Sun Shoupu, Vice-Governor of Shandong Province,
Mr. Jesus Orta, Chair of APEC E-Commerce Steering Group,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me, on behalf of the APEC Secretariat, to express our sincere thanks and high appreciation to the Government of the People's Republic of China and the APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance for organizing the 2nd APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum in Qingdao, a beautiful costal city that is well known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning sceneries.
With the theme "Optimize Environment, Enhance Cooperation, Encourage Innovation, Promote Application", this Forum presents a valuable opportunity for representatives from the public and private sector and academia to share information, experiences and views on key areas of e-commerce such as public service environment building, e-commerce application in enterprises and its development, enterprises and e-commerce third party services.
E-commerce has great potential in expanding business opportunities, reducing costs, increasing efficiency and facilitating the greater participation of small business in global trade. Recognizing this, in 1997, APEC Leaders directed to undertake a work program on e- commerce in the region. Since then APEC has been playing an active role in creating a conducive environment for the development of e- commerce in the Asia-Pacific. The APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) and other APEC fora have implemented a number of initiatives to assist member economies to maximize the opportunities and to efficiently meet the challenges of e-commerce.
The e-APEC Strategy agreed by APEC Leaders in Shanghai (October 2001) was an important landmark in the development of e-commerce as APEC set to identify the policy environment, goals and actions necessary to maximise the higher productivity and economic growth available from the new economy.
To address the digital divide and to utilize the enormous potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), APEC Leaders adopted the Digital Divide Blueprint for Action (2000) calling to triple the number of people with access to the internet by 2005. In October 2001 through the e-APEC strategy, Leaders endorsed the additional goal of ensuring that all groups within a member economy have access to the Internet by 2010. In 2005, Ministers commended the achievement of more than doubling Internet access in the APEC region since 2000 and noted the need for continued efforts to reach the APEC goal of internet access by the end of 2010.
On Paperless Trading, the APEC Blueprint for Action on E-Commerce (1998), APEC's Strategies and Actions towards a Cross-Border Paperless Trading Environment, the APEC Leaders' Statement on Trade and Digital Economy, and Paperless Trading Individual Action Plans are relevant initiatives aimed to establish a comprehensive paperless trading environment across the APEC region by 2020. Under these initiatives, APEC fora are working with business to facilitate paperless trading for cross-border transactions. The initiatives include: electronic customs clearance systems, electronic cargo and port manifests, electronic carnets to facilitate the movement of samples for trade displays, electronic certificates of origin and electronic SPS Certification.
Through the implementation of the Voluntary Consumer Protection Guidelines for the On-line Environment, the APEC Privacy Framework and the APEC Cybersecurity Strategy, APEC is building consumer trust in e-commerce by helping to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive practices when buying goods and services on-line. E-commerce is also playing an important role in securing our borders against terrorists. In particular, the Secure Trade in the APEC Region initiative relies on the electronic transmission of information about goods and people between customs, port, shipping and border control agencies.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are highly important to the development in our region as an engine of economic growth. They represent 98% of all enterprises in the APEC region, and provide over 60% of the private sector employment. Therefore, APEC has put strong emphasis on promoting SMEs' involvement in e-commerce. More than 25 projects have been initiated with a view to improving the environment for SMEs' intensive use of e-commerce. A Reference Framework for Action on Electronic Commerce has been adopted with a guide encouraging the use of e-commerce among SMEs in all member economies.
Public and private sectors have both stakes and roles to play in developing e-commerce. The business sector plays a leading role in developing e-commerce technology, application, practices and services. While the role of governments is to provide a favorable environment, including the legal and regulatory aspects, which is predictable, transparent, consistent and secure - an environment that is conducive to the development and application of e-commerce.
The public-private cooperation is very important to ensure the development of affordable, accessible and interoperable communication and information infrastructure. It is also significant to develop and implement technologies and policies, which build trust and confidence in safe, secure and reliable communication, information and delivery systems, and address issues including privacy, security and consumer protection.
Taking this into consideration, APEC fora, including the ECSG have organized a number of workshops, seminars and dialogues to engage the private sector in its activities. Examples of these activities are the 1st and 2nd Public Private Partnership Dialogue on Paperless Trading.
Noting the needs to strengthen the linkage between the public and private sector in this field, APEC Ministers endorsed the proposal of the establishment of the APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance in 2001. Since then, APEC ECBA has successfully organized the 1st APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum in 2004, the 2005 APEC Symposium on the Assessment and Benchmark of Paperless Trading; and also set up an official website.
Important outcomes have been achieved but there is still a lot of work to be done to realize APEC's goal in e-commerce. APEC is committed to assisting its members to overcome the challenges and to derive maximal benefits from e-commerce.
In this endeavour, the APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance has a very important role to play. And the 2nd APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum that we are opening today is another significant contribution to enhancing our collaboration to achieve APEC's goals on e-commerce.
Last but not least, I would like to emphasize that, as a great trading economy in the world, China has achieved admirable economic growth to which e-commerce has contributed its part. China has made constant efforts and recorded significant progress in developing and applying e-commerce. This is not only in the interest of China but also is a significant contribution to the APEC work on e-commerce as an important mean for trade facilitation and development.
I wish the Forum fruitful discussion and great success.
Thank you