Welcoming Remarks at APEC Symposium on Total Supply Chain Security

Singapore, 06 July 2006
  • Welcoming Remarks by Ambassador Tran Trong Toan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Excellency Professor S. Jayakumar, Deputy Prime Minister, Co-ordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Law, Government of Singapore,
Brig-Gen (NS) Choi Shing Kwok, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport,Mr. Barry Desker, Director, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies

Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honor to be invited to participate in the APEC Symposium on Total Supply Chain Security. On behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to express my warm congratulations and sincere thanks to the Government of Singapore for hosting this important event.
It is highly meaningful that Singapore has taken the initiative in promoting such a holistic and integrated approach to ensure total supply chain security in the Asia-Pacific region. This initiative not only reflects Singapore's far-sighted vision and proactive thinking to cope with challenges in the quest for survival, but also a valuable contribution to APEC's common endeavor of attaining stability, sustainable development and prosperity through the promotion of trade and investment.
The issue of effectively safeguarding supply chains both in the Asia-Pacific region as well as world-wide has become increasingly important. With 21 member economies, APEC represents the most economically dynamic region accounting for 40% of world population, 56% of world GDP and 48% of world trade. APEC member economies depend heavily on the efficiency of supply chains to fuel their long lasting and high rate of economic growth. As most of the world's largest seaports and busiest airports are located in APEC economies, ensuring the stability, security and efficiency of supply chains has become an issue of vital significance for APEC.
Supply chain security has become particularly critical in the wake of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. In view of the wide spread of terrorist activities in the recent years, which pose serious threats of disruption to trade and investment flows to and from the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has assigned high importance to ensuring the security of the supply chain. The Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) initiative launched by APEC Leaders in 2002 aims to advance trade security and efficiency in the Asia-Pacific. A STAR Conference has been held annually since its inaugural meeting in Bangkok in 2003. In this time the STAR Initiative has addressed maritime and aviation security, passenger information processing technology, and capacity building as well as the important issue which gathers us here today: that is supply chain security.
APEC Member Economies recognize that supply chain security is a shared responsibility between the public and private sectors and can only be effectively pursued through close partnership. To this end, in September 2003, APEC members adopted the "APEC Private Sector Supply Chain Security Guidelines". These are aimed at helping companies improve the security of their operations and cover areas such as the physical security of business premises, personnel security, education and training programs, document processing security, and crisis management and disaster recovery procedures.
In November 2005, APEC Leaders and Ministers also welcomed Singapore's initiative to endorse total supply chain security as an APEC public-private sector initiative. This initiative seeks to ensure an integrated, multi-dimensional and holistic approach to APEC's work in all areas relating to supply chain security.
In the APEC 2006 year the recent Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT), in Ho Chi Minh City, reaffirmed the importance of enhancing human security and the issue of total supply chain security. This issue is a perfect example of how APEC should deal with security issues that have direct implications for trade and economic development in the region.
At a broader level, the issue of total supply chain security is also very much linked to APEC's current efforts in the area of sustainable development. Indeed, sustainability is at the heart of APEC 2006 hosted by Viet Nam. APEC 2006's theme: "Towards a dynamic community for sustainable development and prosperity" which underlines APEC's conscious efforts to work together for sustainable development in the APEC region. Along these lines, ensuring security in the international supply chain will certainly be an additional important measure to help ensure sustainable growth and development.
Although supply chain security is not new for the APEC process, what is new is the holistic and comprehensive approach that APEC is taking. The launch of this initiative today is highly relevant and timely as APEC members add a greater level of certainty and sustainability to the trade and development landscape in the Asia-Pacific region.
The complexity and vulnerability of supply chains in the era of globalization means that these issues will continue to receive the highest level of attention in APEC. In the interconnected economy of today, even the slightest disruption to any node of the system that supplies goods in our region can have significant negative flow-on effects.
In recent years the region has seen the emergence of threats to the security of the supply chain from various sources. This includes the increased potential of terrorist attack, the impact of the SARS epidemic experienced only a few years ago and the current potential for an avian influenza pandemic as well as the ever-present threat of natural disasters.
These challenges respect no border. Failure to prepare and manage these threats in a well-coordinated way has the potential to adversely affect hundreds of millions of people in our region. Economies will suffer, business growth will be set back and jobs lost.
Against this backdrop, the stakes of an absence of a secure total supply chain are too high for any economy to ignore. It is essential to enhance awareness of the importance and benefits of supply chain security and to share best practices in ensuring this security in both the public and private sectors of the APEC region. This symposium provides a very important opportunity for APEC Members Economies to discuss the issue and develop the best solutions and approaches to ensure supply chain security in the region. This will go a long ways towards ensuring stability, sustainable development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
With this in mind I would like to welcome you all to this important symposium. I would especially like to express our high appreciation and gratitude to H.E. Professor S. Jayakumar, Deputy Prime Minister, Co-ordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Law of the Government of Singapore, for his valuable time, guidance and support to this important initiative.
May I wish you all the best of health and the symposium a great success.
Thank you.