Accelerating Trade Facilitation Activities to Reduce the cost of doing Business: APEC Committee on Trade and Investment Report

Bangkok, Thailand, 16 October 2003
Measures by APEC Economies and fora to accelerate progress towards APEC's trade facilitation goals of reducing business transactions costs by 5% by 2006 are the key feature of the 2003 APEC Committee on Trade and Investment Annual Report to Ministers.
The 5% reduction in business transaction costs is expected to stimulate an additional US$280 billion in annual trade.
The annual report outlines the Committee on Trade and Investment's (CTI) achievements for 2003 in the area of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and strategies for the future. The report will be presented to Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers from APEC's 21 Member Economies on Saturday October 18, 2003 in Bangkok Thailand.
CTI Chair, Ms. Ng Kim Neo, said the CTI focus for the last twelve months has been implementing the directions provided by APEC Economic Leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico last October, including the ongoing implementation of the Trade Facilitation Action Plan.
"All APEC Member Economies have selected the actions and measures that they will use to facilitate trade in the region and reduce costs to business," said Ms. Ng.
"Some economies have provided detailed information on their intended reforms, including prospective cost reductions to business.
"For example, Singapore demonstrated a 75% cost saving to business from the development of TradeNet, a one-stop system for processing permit applications for exports from and imports into Singapore."
"CTI fora are also actively pursuing trade facilitation strategies. For example, the Business Mobility Group is implementing measures to streamline and accelerate the processing of visas.
"The Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures has developed strategies to protect cargo and ships on international voyages, international aviation and people in transit through the Container Security Initiative."
Ms. Ng said another central issue for the CTI this year has been APEC's efforts to accelerate implementation of the APEC Strategic Plan for WTO-related Capacity Building.
"The plan aims to provide APEC members with access to capacity building support and know-how for all members to actively participate in the WTO process and benefit from the multilateral trading system," said Ms. Ng.
"Key elements of the plan were delivered this year which have already helped to develop APEC members' understanding and confidence, including presentation of a Best Practices in Domestic WTO Consultations paper and exchanges of information on the key area of services.
"Following the breakdown in talks at the recent WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, our work in this area has become more important as we seek to support the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda which will help all APEC economies to grow."
Ms. Ng. also highlighted the CTI's work to implement the APEC Leaders' Statement on Transparency Standards.
"CTI is committed to implementing Transparency Standards by January 2005, which will help our economies to have certainly in each other's markets and develop our business communities? confidence by providing clear and consistent rules for trading and investing in the Asia-Pacific.
"CTI discussed and agreed to a work plan entitled Transparency by 2005: Implementing Leaders' Transparency Standards and developed sector-specific transparency standards to guide our work in this area," said Ms. Ng.