At the recent Market Access Group (MAG) 2013 meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia, the MAG continued talks on remanufactured products, and the APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) presented a paper on Expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). In line with the continued talks on remanufactured goods, an academic workshop on remanufacturing was held on 11 April 2013 to give MAG members a better understanding of remanufacturing. Speakers at the workshop from the UK, Malaysia and Singapore presented various topics related to ITA.
The MAG is also working closely with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to garner more inputs from the business community.
2011 and 2012 Activities
The Market Access Group (MAG) met three times in 2012: the first Meeting was held in Moscow, the second meeting in Singapore and the third in Kazan, Russia.
At the third 2011 meeting in San Francisco, the MAG discussed the results of two surveys relating to simplification of documents and procedures: the first on the harnessing of IT in The Rules of Origin (ROO) and the second on minimum data requirements in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). In the area of Environmental Goods and Services (EGS), the MAG received presentations from Mexico and Malaysia on their respective EGS case studies, highlighting the value of those studies in helping their economies gain a better understanding of their EGS sectors and potential opportunities. There were continuing discussions on remanufactured goods, and a proposal on facilitating trade in remanufactured goods, consistent with the direction laid out by APEC Trade Ministers in May. The key elements of this proposal include capacity building, transparency and the APEC Pathfinder Initiative on Facilitating Trade in Remanufactured Goods that were incorporated into the 2011 APEC Ministerial Statement.
At its first 2012 meeting in Moscow, the MAG discussed potential initiatives that the MAG could take to support the multilateral trading system, including the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) as instructed by APEC Leaders in 2011. The MAG agreed to hold an ITA dialogue with industry representatives and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) at the next MAG meeting in March 2012, in order to further understand business interests in ITA expansion. In the area of remanufacturing, the MAG discussed ways to implement the Ministers’ instruction on transparency and capacity building on remanufacturing. Subsequently, a workshop on remanufacturing research and development was held at the margins of the MAG meeting in March 2012.
At the second 2012 meeting in Singapore, the MAG discussed key messages from the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) Dialogue and Remanufacturing R&D Workshop. Regarding the ITA, the MAG noted industry’s interest and support for a quick launch and conclusion to ITA expansion negotiations and MAG members were encouraged to accelerate domestic consultations on this. With regards to the Remanufacturing R&D Workshop, the MAG noted messages from industry representatives that remanufactured goods should be treated as equivalent to new products in economies’ trade policies.
The third 2012 meeting held in Russia included a continuation of talks on ITA expansion, the members’ continuous support for the launch and the completion of the ITA negotiations. Members were also briefed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) on the database for Rules of Origin (ROO), which contains comprehensive information on ROO provisions in FTAs. Members also continued discussions on possible topics for the next Joint Session between MAG and the APEC Group on Services (GOS).
The MAG supports the World Trade Organisation's on-going Doha Development Agenda and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations by sharing information on specific liberalization initiatives. The MAG has affirmed the importance of adhering to commitments made by the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) participants to provide duty-free treatment for products covered by the ITA. The MAG has been considering ideas to implement the instructions from APEC Leaders in 2011 to play a leadership role in launching negotiations to expand the product coverage and membership of the ITA.
In September 2011, the MAG held an “APEC Workshop on ITA – Then, Now, and In the Future.” The workshop participants noted the significant role played by the ITA in APEC economies and recommended that the CTI and other APEC groups (including the MAG) explore ways to contribute to advancing work on expanding the ITA. IT industries presented similar messages at an “ITA Dialogue” held in March 2012 and expressed their support for a quick launch and conclusion to a negotiation on expanding ITA product coverage.
Advancing trade in environmental goods and services (EGS) is another priority for the MAG. In 2008, the MAG helped develop the EGS Work Programme Framework. The objectives of the Framework are to support the development of the EGS sector in APEC and to provide a coherent setting for the work underway in various APEC bodies. The Framework has four components: (i) research and development, (ii) supply, (iii) trade, and (iv) demand. The EGS Work Programme is updated prior to every CTI meeting.
In 2009, the MAG helped the CTI develop several projects to facilitate trade in EGS, notably in launching the Environmental Goods and Services Information Exchange (EGSIE) website in November 2009. The EGSIE serves as a one-stop gateway to access and exchange EGS-related information. In 2011, a number of other EGS related activities were conducted by APEC, including an “APEC Seminar on Dissemination of Environmental Technologies” and a “Trade Policy Dialogue on Environmental Goods Non-Tariff Measures.”
In addition to the work on EGS, the MAG also conducted a series of workshops and initiatives on remanufacturing to enhance understanding of the benefits of the removal of trade barriers in remanufactured products. Recent activities included holding a “Workshop on Remanufacturing at the Border” in September 2011 which addressed issues such as how economies treated remanufactured products at the border, experiences of remanufacturing companies at the border, the characteristics of the remanufacturing industry, and the specific economic and environmental benefits of the industry. As a result of the MAG’s ongoing efforts on remanufacturing, in November 2011, Ministers agreed to facilitate trade in remanufactured goods by making existing and future measures applied to goods that are not newly-manufactured publicly available. Ministers also endorsed the APEC Pathfinder Initiative on Facilitating Trade in Remanufactured Goods, under which participating economies committed not to apply measures specifically concerning used goods to remanufactured goods. In March 2012, the MAG held a “Workshop on Remanufacturing R&D” that included site visits to remanufacturing facilities, which discussed the design, industrial processes, business processes, and proprietary technology used for remanufactured goods. The workshop participants highlighted that remanufactured goods were not simply repaired goods but were “as good as new,” including a period of warranty.
In 2009, the MAG also extensively discussed making ROO more business-friendly through the harmonization, cumulation, and simplification of documents and procedures. In particular, the discussion led to the voluntary analysis of ROOs in a number of sectors, including refrigerators, musical instruments, steel, bicycles, consumer electronics, sporting equipment, motor vehicles, parts, and accessories and hand tools. Additional analyses on machine tools and parts, and toys and games, were completed by MAG in May 2011.
The MAG endorsed the adoption of a set of APEC Elements for Simplifying Documents and Procedures Relating to ROOs which includes concepts such as reasonably long validity period, waivers of certificates of origin and declaration for low value shipments. The MAG collected information under these concepts. In the third MAG meeting held in Sendai, Japan in September 2010, the group also shared information on the implementation of the electronic certification of origin and discussed possible projects that addressed harnessing IT to ease documentation processing and procedures. Further information gathering on the APEC Elements of harnessing IT as well as minimum data requirements in FTAs was carried out by MAG in 2011 and their results were reported in 2012.
In 2010, Ministers welcomed the launch of the APEC Website on Tariffs and ROOs ("WebTR"). The objective of the WebTR is to improve access to, and the transparency of, tariffs and ROOs in APEC member economies. Specifically, the WebTR provides up-to-date and accurate tariff and ROOs information (in English, in almost all cases) of each APEC member economy. The MAG has been considering ways to expand and improve the functionality of the WebTR to make it more useful for the private sector.
In September 2010, the MAG successfully organized the "APEC/MAG Workshop on Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) and Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Affecting Trade in Food and Agriculture Products in the APEC Region" that was held in Sendai, Japan. A number of themes emerged from the workshop, which included improving transparency by economies with respect to the NTBs/NTMs that they put in place, as well as engaging more closely with business. As a result of the workshop, the MAG agreed at its March 2011 meeting in Washington DC to adopt a new work stream on NTMs and NTBs affecting trade and agricultural products in the APEC region.
By undertaking these projects relating to trade facilitation in remanufactured products and in EGS, as well as adopting a set of APEC elements to simplify rules of origin, the MAG contributes to APEC's goal of accelerating regional economic integration (REI).
Peter CHEAH Hee Keong (Mr)
Ministry of International Trade & Industry
Tel: +603 6200 0508
Fax: +603 6203 1305
Fadzilah Abu HASAN (Ms)