The issues that dominated the 2008 APEC agenda in Peru included the global financial crisis, regional economic integration, structural reform, Corporate Social Responsibility, climate change, energy security and human security.
The Global Economy and the Multilateral Trading System
APEC gave top priority to the financial crisis and its impact on economic growth in the region. In their Lima Statement on the Global Economy, APEC Leaders committed to undertake all necessary measures to restore confidence in APEC economies and to keep the region on a path of long-term growth. Steps endorsed include enhancing regional economic cooperation and intensifying work on structural reform.
Leaders pledged to reject protectionism and to intensify engagement in the WTO in order to achieve an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the DDA negotiations. They also committed to support efforts to ensure that business can access finance, and highlighted the need to develop more effective standards of corporate governance and risk management.
Regional Economic Integration
The main outcomes in this area include:
Significant progress on examining the options and prospects for a possible Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
The development of a preliminary inventory of issues that would need to be addressed in preparing for a regional free trade agreement (RTA/FTA).
The Study on Identifying Convergences and Divergences in APEC´s Regional Trade Agreements identified a high level of similarities in some provisions, but differences in other key chapters. In 2009 initiatives designed to promote greater convergence among economies in key areas of APEC's trade and investment portfolio will be undertaken.
Agreement was reached on 5 new model measures for FTAs: Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation, Competition Policy, Environment, Temporary Entry of Business People and Safeguards. This brings the total number of APEC model measures to 15.
- Progress was made on the implementation of the second Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP II), including the establishment of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and reporting methodologies for monitoring its implementation.
- Agreement on a new APEC Investment Facilitation Action Plan (IFAP) for 2008 to 2010.
- The endorsement of the APEC Digital Prosperity Checklist, which provides assistance to economies to advance the use of information and communications technologies as catalysts for growth and development.
Considerable impetus was given to the Leaders' Agenda to Implement Structural Reform (LAISR) by the inaugural Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM), held in Melbourne in August 2008. The key outcomes of the SRMM were:
- Endorsement of a Good Practice Guide on Regulatory Reform, which will be promoted through the Economic Committee's (EC) forward work program;
- Tasking the APEC Policy Support Unit to undertake necessary research on key elements of the LAISR agenda;
- Encouraging practical support to member economies to successfully undertake structural reform through enriching capacity building efforts; and
- Tasking APEC to develop a system for voluntary reviews or self reviews of member economies' institutional frameworks that support structural reform.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In 2008, Leaders stressed the important role that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays in integrating business activities with APEC's goals of sustainable social and economic development. It was found that although a strong level of voluntary CSR practice already exists within the business community, further coordinated work could be undertaken to raise understanding and awareness of CSR practices: consequently, continued dialogue will be encouraged within APEC, and between APEC and the business community.
Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development
APEC continues to address the challenge of climate change through its work on energy efficiency, energy security and clean energy development. In 2008 the Energy Working Group (EWG) undertook a number of activities, including:
The APEC Peer Review on Energy Efficiency (PREE) initiative was endorsed. Under this scheme the energy efficiency policies of APEC member economies that submit to review will be compiled, to promote information sharing on energy efficiency performances and on policies and measures for improving energy efficiency.
Progress was made on the APEC Energy Trade and Investment Action Plan. The plan addresses impediments to trade and investment in energy.
The Energy Security Initiative (ESI) continues to be implemented. It addresses energy for sustainable development by strengthening the security and reliability of affordable energy; mitigating the environmental impacts of increased production; and the consumption of energy in the APEC region.
The EWG is working with the Asian Development Bank on a joint energy source book, Energy Outlook and Data Book 2008 for Asia and the Pacific Region, to be published in 2009.
The Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) was launched in September in Beijing, China.
A number of major counter-terrorism initiatives were implemented successfully during the year. They include: the APEC Best Practices in Post-Blast Scene Management Workshop; the APEC Seminar on Protection of Cyberspace from Terrorist Use and Attacks; the APEC Workshop on Trade Recovery Programme (TRP); a test of the Aviation Security Emergency Points of Contact Network; the STAR VI Conference; a workshop on Effective Public Private Partnerships in Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade; and the APEC Seminar on Securing Remittance and Cross Border Payments from Terrorist Use. The APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force welcomed the initiative of a group of member economies, led by Singapore, to conduct a TRP pilot exercise in 2009. The Task Force also endorsed a best practice document on the Protection of Critical Energy Infrastructure.
The Health Working Group's (HWG) new Terms of Reference and its work plan were endorsed. The HWG will continue to focus on: avian and human pandemic influenza preparedness and response; HIV/AIDS prevention and reduction; and utilising information technology to improve health.
The mandate of the Task Force on Emergency Preparedness (TFEP) was renewed and the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness and Response in the Asia Pacific region, a needs and best practices stock-take, was approved. APEC will now hold annual meetings of the heads of emergency management authorities in the region. The TFEP will undertake initiatives that address damage assessment techniques and public-private sector partnerships for business resilience and conduct long term projects on social economic recovery and development after large-scale disasters.
Food Security & Safety
Finance Ministers meeting in Peru in November addressed the volatility of food prices: an issue that presented a major challenge to many APEC economies in 2008. Leaders responded to these concerns by determining to undertake an extensive review of the APEC Food System. They also instructed officials to develop a new work plan on food security aimed at helping economies to better understand food price volatility and food markets, and at exchanging experiences on the use of new technologies and research and development cooperation.
The issue of food safety was also addressed by the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF). They included a Seminar on Food Safety Control System and Risk Analysis, and Capacity Building Training on Food Safety Risk Communication for APEC Developing Member Economies. Importantly, the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum Partnership Training Institute Network (PTIN) was launched to strengthen food safety in the region. The PTIN will bring together public and private sector representatives, including scientific experts, and will promote the use of international food safety standards in a manner consistent with the obligations of the WTO's SPS Agreement.
Environmental Goods and Services
The Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) agreed on a work program framework to promote the development and awareness of trade and investment in environmental goods and services (EGS) within APEC.
Transparency and Anti-Corruption
Leaders reaffirmed the region's commitment to fight corruption in the private and public sectors and endorsed:
The APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) was established and became operational in July 2008. A comprehensive work program that will support APEC's trade, investment, economic and capacity building agenda has been formulated for the PSU.
APEC also agreed on the conditions, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms related to the appointment of a fixed-term Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, bringing to an end the system of annually rotating Executive Directors linked to the host economy.
For more information see:
The 2008 Leaders' Declaration: A New Commitment to Asia-Pacific Development
The Lima APEC Leaders' Statement on the Global Economy