Structural reform initiatives moved to the center stage at APEC. These
initiatives have built on the Economic Committee's success in raising awareness
of the significance of "behind-the-border" policies for growth and regional
economic integration. This recognition was highlighted by APEC Leaders' in
Sydney last year when they welcomed efforts to intensify work on the Leaders'
Agenda to Implement Structural Reform (LAISR). With this strong endorsement, the
Economic Committee initiated some important and concrete steps toward
progressing the LAISR agenda during 2008.
There are strong complementarities between the work of APEC's Committee on
Trade and Investment, the Economic Committee and the Finance Ministers' Process.
Structural reform and trade and investment policies intersect to reinforce their
respective roles of promoting efficient markets, economic integration and
improved productivity. Sound structural reform policies also promote greater
resilience to adverse goods market, commodity market and financial market shocks
and therefore also help reinforce sound macroeconomic conditions.
Coherence between these three components of APEC's economic agenda is
important to ensure they reinforce their contributions to the common goals of
high productivity growth, high employment and high living standards in the
Senior Officials' Policy Dialogue on Structural Reform
Peru's theme for APEC 2008, "A New Commitment to the Development of the Asia
Pacific", has provided an excellent platform for the Economic Committee to
undertake important initiatives. In February 2008, a Senior Officials' (SOM)
Policy Dialogue on Structural Reform was held in Lima, Peru. This dialogue
examined the links between "behind the border" microeconomic policies,
economic growth and macroeconomic stability. Keynote speakers from the OECD,
World Bank, the US, New Zealand and Peru, as well as business representatives,
discussed the benefits of undertaking structural policy reforms, priorities for
the region, the political economy challenges, and ways to approach these often
complex reforms that range from regulatory reform and improving public sector
performance management to creating 'one-stop-shops' for business licensing and
to improving competition laws.
The dialogue played an important role in raising awareness among experts,
businesspeople and officials from around the region. Discussion centered on the
key benefits of structural reform, tools to implement it, and how political
economy challenges can be overcome.
Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting
Insights from that dialogue fed into the first ever Structural Reform
Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) held in Melbourne, Australia in August. Hosted by
Australia, the SRMM provided a forum in which Ministers could share experiences
on the benefits and political challenges of structural reform in the context of
domestic economic, political and social conditions.
Ministers also looked at how appropriately targeted and sequenced regulatory
reform can improve the quality of regulation and the economy more generally.
The Joint Ministerial Statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting
encouraged APEC fora to work together to advance structural reform initiatives.
The key deliverables from the meeting included:
endorsing a Good Practice Guide on Regulatory Reform;
tasking the APEC Policy Support Unit to undertake necessary research on key
elements of the LAISR agenda;
reiterating the need for practical support to member
economies to successfully undertake structural reform; and
supporting the voluntary reviews or self-reviews of
member economies' institutional frameworks that support structural reform.
APEC Economic Policy Report 2008
The APEC Economic Policy Report 2008, which will be presented to APEC Leaders
in November, concentrates on structural reform issues, notably on this year's
theme of competition policy.
The report shares lessons about how APEC economies have adopted and are
enforcing competition policy, it highlights achievements and activities by APEC
in competition policy, and it helps formulate the focus of future competition
The Report will provide a useful reference for Leaders, Ministers, and
various committees on the role of competition policy in promoting structural
reform. This is a collaborative effort by APEC economies to identify the
economy-specific and cross-cutting competition policy issues in the region. The
2009 report will focus on regulatory policy.
Economic Committee 2009
2009 looks set to continue the Economic Committee's good progress on
structural reform. At the Committee's August meeting in Peru, officials endorsed
several important initiatives to implement in its work program in 2009,
including: a seminar on regulatory reform in enhancing the domestic business
environment; the 5th APEC training course on competition policy; an APEC
training course on corporate governance; and a seminar on corporate governance
and corporate social responsibility for small and medium enterprises.
My term as Economic Committee Chair will draw to a close at the end of the
year, with Japan's Dr Takashi Omori taking over as Chair for the 2009-10 term. I
am delighted that Dr Omori is committed to progressing initiatives under the
ambitious multi-year work program for the Economic Committee to implement LAISR.
Singapore, host economy in 2009, has also indicated that its policy priorities
for APEC 2009 will include structural reform as a key pillar of regional
Written by Professor Bob Buckle who is the Chair of the APEC Economic
Committee. The Committee is charged with the responsibility for leading and
coordinating APEC's structural reform work program. Professor Buckle is also Pro
Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce at Victoria University of Wellington,
Wellington, New Zealand.