Group on Services
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The services sector generates significant employment, economic growth, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. To encourage further growth and development in this sector, APEC's Group on Services (GOS) works on trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation (TILF) issues related to trade in services, and coordinates APEC's work in this area. GOS works in close collaboration with four service-related APEC Working Groups: Telecommunications and Information; TransportationTourism; and Energy.

The Group on Services (GOS) was established by the Committee on Trade and Investment in 1997 to address the TILF tasks in the area of services as mandated in the Osaka Action Agenda and instructed by APEC Leaders, Ministers, Senior Officials and the CTI.

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New and Continuing Group on Services (GOS) Projects in 2015

Expansion of the APEC Services Trade Access Requirements (STAR) Database

The expansion of the “APEC Services Trade Access Requirements (STAR) Database” facilitates service providers’ market access, business mobility and establishment of a commercial presence throughout the APEC region. . Phase 4 of the project has expanded by covering the eight services sectors, namely: distribution, education, financial, ICT, mining and energy, professional, telecommunication, and transportation and logistics services in all 21 APEC member economies.

Enhancing Provider Mobility in Cross Border Education in the APEC Region

In taking forward the 2012 APEC Leaders-led agenda on promoting cross border education in the region, a research study was conducted  to improve understanding of the policy contexts in a number of APEC economies around the cross-border mobility for higher education institutions; identify any policy or regulatory contexts in those economies which limit the cross-border mobility of higher education institutions and identify opportunities for APEC economies to collaborate and provide mutual support to reduce barriers to the cross-border mobility of higher education institutions. A workshop on enhancing provider mobility in cross-border higher education cooperation was also held in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 3-4 March 2015 to discuss the findings of the research study. Workshop participants arrived at four proposed actions for collaboration that would help reduce barriers to mobility, namely:

Improved data definition and data collection on higher education institution mobility;

  • Sharing of good practice on online learning across borders where future work could focus on quality assurance and credit recognition for online programs;
  • Development of recognition principles and guidelines on translating between quality assurance systems;
  • Convening a workshop to share practices, obstacles and approaches to credit recognition, to incorporate the mapping of qualifications frameworks where they exist.

Capacity Building on Services Negotiation

Given the growing importance of trade in services for the global economy and supply chains and the important number of FTAs within the APEC region that contain provision on services, Peru will be organising a workshop on Negotiation of Services Chapters under FTAs with a Negative List Approach to strengthen the capabilities of government officials in the negotiation of issues on services covered in FTAs.

APEC Symposium on Mining and Energy Services

An APEC Symposium on Mining and Energy Services was held on 16-18 June 2015 in Perth to discuss government policies and regulatory measures that impact on trade in mining and energy services.

Symposium on Architecture and Engineering Services

A self-funded project by Australia, the Symposium on Architecture and Engineering Services will be held on 8-9 December 2015 in Singapore to examine regulatory practices and policies on trade and investment in engineering and architecture services in APEC member economies.

Environmental Services Action Plan (ESAP)

In paragraph 27 of the Joint Statement of APEC Ministers in November 2014, the Ministers stated that they “welcome the endorsement of the initiative on liberalization, facilitation and cooperation of environmental services, and instruct officials to develop a plan of action by the next AMM in 2015.” Following to that, Japan has proposed several key actions to be implemented in 2016-2020 to realize the vision. The ESAP takes the following two-track approach. First, a survey will be undertaken, which is expected to provide APEC economies with necessary information to gain greater insights about efficient regulatory and trade promotion policies in environmental services. Second, APEC economies will continue to consider and study broader environmental industries/businesses with a view to build and enhance a common understanding of the roles of services in these industries/businesses. This study is expected to contribute towards both the discussions on the scope of environmental services and identifying challenges relating to environmental businesses.

GOS also supports and contributes to the development of the following services-related initiatives:

APEC Services Cooperation Framework (ASCF)

Following the Bogor Leaders’ Declaration and achieving APEC’s goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific no later than the year 2020, the Philippines has proposed the ASCF in realizing the importance of advancing regional cooperation in services. The framework is aimed to be concluded by the Concluding Senior Officials Meeting (CSOM)  in November 2015 with the following desired outcomes:

  • Increased level of competitiveness in the services sector.
  • More coherence in the regulatory framework.
  • Enhanced participation in global value chains (GVCs).

APEC-AIM Virtual Knowledge Centre on Services

GOS would also play a major role once the initiative being implemented by the Philippines. The Knowledge Centre would serve as an interactive hub for services stakeholders looking for information on all services-related outputs by APEC, current policies and agreements affecting services trade, current research on trade in services, as well as best practices of services-related policies and programs within APEC member economies.

Manufacturing-Related Services Action Plan (MSAP)

Following the Leaders’ Declaration during the AELM 2014, i.e. “welcome[d] the initiative on manufacturing related services in supply chains/value chains as a next generation trade and investment issue, and instruct officials to develop a plan of action in 2015.”, Japan has proposed the Manufacturing-Related Services Action Plan (MSAP) with a view to increasing availability and accessibility of service through liberalization and facilitation of manufacturing-related services, and further deepen economic integration in the region.

The GOS has made significant progress in activities that facilitate the development of open and efficient services markets in the APEC region.

The SAP Matrix of Actions under the APEC Services Action Plan (SAP) was developed. This aims to provide common direction and coherence to APEC's work on services trade. It also serves to establish a forward work programme that fosters the development of open and efficient services markets in the Asia-Pacific. The Matrix of Actions helps indentify priorities and capacity building needs in relation to individual and collective efforts. This will in turn boost services trade and development.

The APEC Strategy on Movement of Business People was developed and endorsed by the GOS and Business Mobility Group (BMG). It includes principles relating to, and actions that could contribute to, the facilitation of entry and temporary stay, and the movement of business people.

The APEC Legal Services Initiative website was developed in 2010. The website includes a compilation and comparison of information on regulatory regimes for foreign lawyers in APEC member economies and contacts for regulating and peak bodies in APEC member economies.

The APEC Accounting Services Initiative was developed in 2011 and became fully operational in 2012. This initiative makes the licensing and qualification requirements for delivering accounting services in APEC economies more transparent. An inventory of such requirements has been developed and published on the website. In addition a set of guidelines on the regulation of foreign accounting professionals has been prepared.

A Services Trade Access Requirements (STAR) Database has been developed. Services trade is typically subject to regulatory requirements which can vary greatly from economy to economy. The underlying premise of the STAR Database is that increasing the regulatory awareness of service providers increases their ability to trade their services. The STAR database aims to be a central repository of information for businesses looking to access new markets in the APEC region. It is particularly intended to assist small and medium enterprises that do not have access to in-house corporate research facilities. Currently the database contains information on five service sectors for 11 APEC economies. A project is underway that will extend coverage to all 21 economies for the existing sectors and adding three further sectors for 15 economies.

Dr. Emmanuel ESGUERRA (Mr)
Deputy Director-General
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), The Philippines
Assistant to Convenor
Program Director
APEC Secretariat