The Market Access Group (MAG) held its meetings twice in 2015 in Clark, Philippines on 1 February 2015 and in Cebu on 27 August 2015. MAG continued discussion on the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA), environmental goods list, expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), remanufacturing, presentation by APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) on non-tariff measures (NTMs) and also other initiatives related to market access. MAG also appreciates contribution from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on their support and connecting the linkages between MAG and the business community.
SUPPORT FOR THE MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM (MTS)
APEC Environmental Goods List
The number of MAG members which have submitted have increased and it is targeted that the APEC Environmental Goods Agreement to be implemented by end of 2015.
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. 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.
ADVANCING REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
Manufacturing-related Services in Supply/Value Chains
MAG supports the Manufacturing Related Services Action Plan (MSAP), a Japan-led initiative which was developed to liberalize and facilitate manufacturing-related services.
Remanufacturing is a complete product recovery process that includes 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. Eleven economies are now fully participating in the pathfinder which include Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; New Zealand; the Philippines; Singapore; Chinese Taipei and the United States. MAG is also working on capacity building and transparency on remanufactured goods.
Other Remanufacturing Deliverables:
Web page on Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) on Remanufacturing to help create awareness among member economies. Members have been contributing their updated websites to facilitate users with knowledge on the economies’ latest regulations and developments related to remanufacturing industry.
Remanufacturing Resource Guide, a living document for informational purposes.
MAG also supports the works on other market access-related initiatives which would strengthen comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development and looks forward to the realization of the following initiatives:
APEC Trade Repository
The APEC Trade Repository (APECTR) is an online reference tool for trade and tariff information on APEC’s 21 member economies, in furtherance of its work towards trade facilitation, transparency, information dissemination and connectivity. Building on its work in 2010 on the APEC Tariff and Rules of Origin website (WebTR), APEC will expand the sets of information made available to the public relevant to trade in the Asia Pacific region through the APECTR. The APECTR contains the following information on each economy:
MNF Tariff Rates;
Preferential Tariff Rates;
Rules of Origin;
Best Practices in Trade Facilitation;
Other Trade Measures;
Domestic Trade and Customs Laws/Regulations;
Procedure and Documentary Requirements; and
Authorized Economic Operators
Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs
MAG acknowledges its function in providing timely and accurate information on export and import procedures and requirement through the development of guidebooks, usage of trade information and review of import licensing requirement will increase transparency of trade data.
APEC Pathfinder for Self-Certification of Origin
MAG Members are encouraged to join the APEC Pathfinder on Self Certification of Origin which sought to reduce the administrative burdens and costs associated with navigating complex rules of origin documentation and procedures when utilizing FTAs.
Case Studies to Examine the Critical Role of Services Trade in Global Value Chains
Australia has organised a Joint MAG-GOS Meeting on Services in Global Value Chains: Case Studies of Market Opening Reforms at the margin of SOM3 in Cebu on Tuesday, 26 August 2015. The joint meeting was part of the Phase 1 of the project on the Case Studies to Examine the Critical Role of Services Trade in Global Value Chains.
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).
Benjamin Tan (Mr)
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Tel: +65 6332 1713
Fax: +65 6334 7113
Asmidar ABDUL RAHMAN (Ms)