Outcomes of APEC 6th Ministerial Meeting on the Telecommunications and Information Industry
APEC Telecommunications Ministers concluded their sixth meeting by delivering a joint statement covering a broad range of areas that are crucial for the ongoing economic development and security of the APEC Region. Prior to the meeting, Peru's Minister for Transportations and Communications, Mr. José Ortiz Rivera, outlined the general feelings of APEC Telecommunications Ministers, "Access to modern technologies must be universal. No longer should participation in the digital economy be restricted to cities, but people in far away towns and villages should also be able to share in the benefits. Communications technology has reduced distance between the people of the world. What is needed now is for our region to ensure the distance that still remains can be crossed. At the Sixth Telecommunications Ministerial meeting I hope we are able to set a clearer path to enable universal access to the digital economy." he said.
Meeting in Lima, Peru, on June 1 to 3, Telecommunications Ministers highlighted the importance of expanding access to the Internet for all people in the Asia-Pacific as part of capacity building measures required for the region. Ministers also drew attention to making better use of the next generation of information technology and increasing broadband access in the Asia-Pacific region. These and a range of other issues have now been referred to the APEC Telecommunications Working Group (APEC TEL) for further action and implementation.
In their joint statement, the Lima Declaration, Ministers noted the challenge faced by some developing economies as a result of limited internal telecommunications infrastructure. To address the issue, Ministers adopted a comprehensive Program of Action, which instructs APEC TEL to undertake activities that:
- Encourage investment and capitalization in expanding Internet access and infrastructure construction particularly in developing economies;
- Promote the use of information and communication technologies and related services to create digital opportunities;
- Strengthen and encourage information sharing, exchange of best practices and co-operation with other APEC fora and international and regional organizations on advancing information infrastructure and the information society;
- Encourage the development of policy approaches to enable the implementation and application of advanced technologies and services to expand access to unserved and underserved areas;
- Encourage APEC economies to implement the Key Principles for Broadband Development as each economy gains capabilities, and continue to work on broadband policies, emergent themes and issues such as broadband for small and medium enterprises; emergency response and disaster mitigation; universal service and access policies; and other policy issues related to broadband;
- Explore innovative next generation network (NGN) approaches arising from new technologies and services, consistent with the topic areas put forward in the Lima Declaration;
- Consider developing a clearer vision of the Asia-Pacific Information Society (APIS) and the new knowledge-based economy on which it is built, and identifying those areas in which the TEL could contribute most effectively; adnd
- Consider undertaking an assessment in early 2006 of progress towards the Brunei Goal of tripling Internet access by the end of 2005.
Having been proactive for several years in working to expand access to the Internet and other communications technologies, APEC Telecommunications Ministers commended the rapid growth in Internet access in the APEC region over the past five years. Since 2000 access to the Internet in the APEC Region has more than doubled, and in applauding this achievement, Ministers called for continued efforts to realize the APEC goal of tripling Internet access by the end of 2005. This measurement will require strengthened statistical gathering capacity in order to undertake an assessment of progress in early 2006.
Ministers also confirmed the importance of life-long learning in enhancing human capacity development for all age groups and genders, as well as for people with disabilities or special needs. Ministers have instructed the APEC TEL to explore different approaches to human resource development, such as a possible e-university to assist e-government and continue TEL e-Learning initiatives.
Ministers also lent their ongoing support to work on next-generation networks (NGNs) that impact on a number of areas including security, trade facilitation and capacity building. Recognizing the challenges and opportunities posed by the rapid technological advancement and convergence of telecommunications services, Ministers instructed APEC TEL to explore innovative NGN approaches arising from new technologies and services. APEC TEL will now undertake a review of the current APEC 'Principles of Interconnection' in light of issues raised by the transition to NGN, including the inter-operability of services and networks.
Ministers also called for the APEC TEL to assist with the expansion of broadband information infrastructure. This includes encouraging Member Economies to implement the APEC 'Key Principles for Broadband Development' as each economy gains capabilities and continues to work on policy issues related to broadband including broadband for small and medium enterprises, emergency response and disaster mitigation and service industries.
With regard to the importance of ensuring the security and integrity of the APEC region's communications infrastructure, Ministers instructed APEC TEL to continue its work on information security aimed at trusted, secure and sustainable online environment.
Ministers also recognized the importance of the private sector in developing opportunities through the continued introduction and evolution of information and communications technologies. The importance of interaction with the private sector was emphasised by an industry dialogue on the role of both the public and private sectors in expanding telecommunications infrastructure to create a more inclusive information society, which was held just prior to the Ministerial Meeting.
The full Lima Declaration and associated documents are available on the APEC website and can be accessed through the links below:
The outcomes of this meeting will now be presented to APEC Leaders when they meet in Busan, Korea, in November.