APEC Ministers Tackle Regulatory Obstacles to Structural Reform

Melbourne, Australia, 04 August 2008
  • Issued by The 1st APEC Ministerial Meeting on Structural Reform
Welcoming delegates to the first APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting, Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said that the political challenges of structural reform are relevant for all economies, developed and developing alike. Ministers will also discuss how regulatory reform policy can drive structural reform in tomorrow's session.
Structural reform is the set of government policies that reduces barriers to competition; improves operation of markets; or corrects market failures.
"Our proposed agenda will allow us to look at some of the determinants of successful reform and how we can utilise different institutional frameworks, strategies and processes to achieve reform," said Minister Swan, who is the chair of the meeting.
"Regulation is one of the key instruments governments use to implement structural reform.
"We know that regulation influences the behaviour of firms and individuals, and that it can be used to achieve important economic, social and environmental objectives.
"But inappropriate or poorly designed regulation can be a barrier to competitive, efficient markets and sustained economic growth. Such regulation can ultimately impact negatively on living standards," Minister Swan explained.
The Asia-Pacific region has gained greatly from the reforms of the past and as a result has become more dynamic over time. Domestic reforms will further contribute to opening trade and investment flows.
"As APEC's trade agenda has advanced, there has been an increasing recognition that removing non-trade, or "behind the border" barriers, is equally important in achieving economic growth," said Minister Swan.
"Because structural policies are domestic in nature, they are sometimes not well suited for negotiation between economies.
"So APEC also provides the ideal context for us to consider our next steps in tackling structural reform issues in the region," Minister Swan affirmed. "APEC is ideally positioned to promote economic reform across the Asia Pacific, because of its capacity to evolve and respond to new challenges, and its cooperative, non-binding consensual approach."
This meeting, the first ever to be convened to specifically discuss benefits of structural reform, places particular emphasis on competition and regulatory reform; strategies for successful implementation of reform, including political considerations; and robust legislative and institutional frameworks.