The Market Access Group (MAG) conducted its first meeting in 2014 in Ningbo, China on 22 February. The MAG continued discussion on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), remanufacturing, initiatives under environmental goods, presentation by APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) on non-tariff measures (NTMs) and also other initiatives related to market access. The MAG is also working closely with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to garner more inputs from the business community.
Remanufacturing is a complete product recovery process that includes the repair, replacement and recovery of components for product reuse. Industry representatives noted that remanufactured goods should be treated as equivalent to new products in member economies’ trade policies. Ministers agreed to facilitate trade in remanufactured goods by making existing and future measures applied to goods that are not newly-manufactured publicly available. The APEC Pathfinder Initiative on Facilitating Trade in Remanufactured Goods was incorporated into the 2011 APEC Ministerial Statement. As part of this Pathfinder Initiative, participating economies committed not to apply measures specifically concerning used goods to remanufactured goods. MAG is also working on capacity building and transparency on remanufactured goods.
Workshop on Perspective of Remanufacturing
The MAG conducted a Workshop on Perspective of Remanufacturing which was held on 11 April 2013 in Surabaya, Indonesia. The workshop updated member economies with the latest research and development in the area of remanufacturing, including exploring the linkages between product design for remanufacturing and the impact of remanufacturing on the environment.
Workshop on Customer’s Perspective on Remanufacturing
The MAG also held a workshop on the “Customer’s Perspective of Remanufacturing” in Medan, Indonesia June 2013. The workshop explored the types of customers that purchase remanufactured goods in the Asia Pacific region and discussed why customers chose remanufacturing goods based on a customer survey.
Other Remanufacturing Deliverables:
Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA)
The robust trade of information technology or IT products today is driven by the rapid innovation of new technologies and consumer demand for the latest designs and technology platforms. Over the years, due to this rapid technological advancement and changes in tariff classification, APEC economies recognize that there is a need for the expansion and updating of the 1996 World Trade Organization Information Technology Agreement (ITA ). The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) requires that participants eliminate duties on IT products covered by the Agreement. The ITA needs to be expanded to include products which were not originally included, new products that have entered the market, and products which have evolved and have different characteristics today. Expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) will ultimately ensure greater access and lower prices for consumers. The MAG is working toward supporting a swift conclusion of the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement at the World Trade Organization as well as increasing awareness and capacity building on this issue.
Workshop on Advancement of Information Technology Products
A two-day workshop on “the Advancement of Information Technology Products” was held in Malaysia on 13-14 June 2013. The programme brought together experts, companies and interested stakeholders from the information technology industry such as the manufacturers and related SMEs, and R&D teams of IT products. Other targeted participants were government officials including customs officials and IT industry regulators from APEC developing economies. The workshop:
(1) Increased awareness among developing APEC economies particularly officials related to border issues of advanced IT products on Information Technology Agreement (ITA), the evolution of IT products technology and consumer electronics, multi-functionalities/technologies and technology pathways;
(2) Enhanced understanding for APEC economies to support on-going negotiations to expand the scope of products covered by the ITA; and
(3) Addressed challenges and propose solutions to facilitate the trade of IT products in light of the constant evolution in IT products.
Trade Facilitation and Secure Trade
APEC Conference on Facilitating Trade in a Secure Trading Environment
This two day conference focused on procedures and regulatory practices that can ensure a safe trading environment without hindering legitimate trade. It is imperative that in guaranteeing trade security, trade facilitation is not overlooked. In fact establishing good business friendly procedures in the implementation of trade security related regulations, will contribute greatly to a peaceful trading environment. The topics of the conference included: challenges to legitimate trade; and facilitation and promotion of trade and investments through (1) good regulatory framework (fulfilling obligations under UNSCR 1540) and business friendly implementation of trade security related policies and (2) establishing good regional cooperation and networks to exchange trade-related information. The outcome of the conference was a list of non-binding best practices that are most facilitative, least trade restrictive and most effective in ensuring a safe trading environment for APEC economies to emulate. The conference was held in Kuala Lumpur October 2013.
Information Technology Agreement (ITA) Expansion
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 1996 World Trade Organization Information Technology Agreement (ITA) participants to provide duty-free treatment for technology 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 to address new and evolving technologies.
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.
Environmental Goods and Services ( Green Growth)
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.
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 on-going 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.
Rules of Origin (ROO)
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.
Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs)
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)