The APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), which carries forward and coordinates APEC's work on Trade and Investment Liberalisation and Facilitation, has reported a series of accomplishments during the past year in its report presented to APEC Ministers in Shanghai today.
The just released report highlights significant accomplishments in areas such as non-tariff measures, services, customs procedures, standards and the mobility of business people. In addition to detailing the work of the ten CTI sub-fora, the report cites progress on Collective Action Plans (CAPs) and advances made in the delivery of electronic access to individual Action Plans (known as the e-IAP system). Updates on sectoral liberalization, review of the Osaka Action Agenda, strengthening markets and trade facilitation are also included.
"The bottom line is an increase in transparency of trade and investment policies, lowering of the transaction costs of cross-border trade, and greater certainty and predictability for the business community," said CTI Acting Chair German King.
Key CTI achievements and outcomes for the year include:
Improvements to the Electronic Individual Action Plan (IAP) System
The individual action plan is the core mechanism used by all APEC member economies to illustrate their commitment towards achieving the Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment in the region. Following the delivery of a web-based electronic IAP (e-IAP) system in Brunei last year, several improvements have been implemented to enhance presentation, functionality and user friendliness, and importantly, business accessibility to the information contained in the IAPs.
Review and Development of the Osaka Action Agenda (OAA)
CTI has conducted a thorough review and overhaul of Part I of the OAA, to reflect new changes and developments in the area of trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation since 1995. As a result, the updated OAA now provides an improved and more comprehensive long-term framework for advancing towards the Bogor Goals of 2010 (for developed economies) and 2020 (for developing economies).
Collective Action Plans (CAPs)
Implementation and enhancement of CAPs is the core activity of the CTI and its sub-fora. Progress was recorded in several areas, including: intensified work on tariffs/non-tariff measures (NTMs); agreement on a "Typology of Possible NTMs Identified under the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalisation (EVSL) Sectors"; publication of a report on "APEC Economies: Breaking Down the Barriers" which highlights efficient and effective administrative procedures that facilitate the flow of goods and services across borders that have been implemented in APEC economies in various sectors; and a study on trade data and tariff information.
To implement the comprehensive APEC Policy Framework for Work on Services endorsed in 2001, phase II of the Development of the Menu of Options for Voluntary Liberalisation, Facilitation and Promotion of ECOTECH in Services Trade and Investment was completed.
The menu of options was expanded to include technology transfer, intellectual property rights, start-up companies/venture capital and domestic business environment.
Standards & Conformance
The work program in this area has been streamlined through rationalisation of the agenda, improved priority setting and coordination with other groups.
The CTI also contributed to preparations for the potential launch of a pilot of DeclareNet, an Internet business-to-government (B2G) website for exchange of conformance information between regulatory authorities and manufacturers, which would also function as a regulatory tool for post-market surveillance.
A framework for assessment and evaluation of SCCP CAP implementation was endorsed including its on-going efforts in technical assistance.
Several comprehensive multi-year technical assistance programs aimed at assisting members in CAP implementation were also completed.
In the area of Intellectual Property Rights - an overhaul of the CAP was conducted and and several new collective actions adopted such as electronic processing of IPR-related procedures and appropriate protection of IPR in new fields.
Mobility of Business People
Participation in the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme was expanded to 11 economies during the year. The scheme offers accredited business travellers visa-free travel and expedited airport processing when visiting participating economies. The 11 (in order of participation) are: Australia; Chile; Hong Kong, China; Korea; Philippines; Malaysia; New Zealand; Thailand; Peru; Brunei Darussalam; and Chinese Taipei.
A multilateral Advance Passenger Processing (APP) trial was also approved to support implementation of best practice travel facilitation systems.
Dialogue with Business
The CTI continued to encourage wider working level dialogues with business and professional groups to promote better understanding of business related APEC issues.
The Automotive Dialogue met for the 3rd time in Bangkok from 3-5 April. It adopted an "IT Manifesto" which incorporates a forward looking agenda and a set of "Principles of Technical regulation Harmonization". A substantive work program looking at various areas pertinent to the automotive industry has been put in place. Its achievements were noted by APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) in June.
The Terms of Reference for establishing the Chemical Dialogue were also finalized and preparations are now underway for conducting the 1st Dialogue meeting in Mexico around the time of the Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade in May 2002.
A set of trade facilitation principles were developed during the year to build upon APEC's existing commitments and obligations. The APEC Principles on Trade Facilitation will serve as a reference for policy makers and executors in APEC member economies to assist them in formulating and implementing measures that are pro-business. CTI will now start to develop work programs, including further technical assistance/capacity building programs to implement the principles. Work was continued on the implementation of initiatives under the Cooperation Framework on Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure adopted in 2000 as well as the implementation of the APEC Principles to Enhance Competition and Regulatory Reform. A Menu of Options was endorsed to advance work in the priority areas of Capacity and Institutional Building and Corporate Law and Competition Policy. The first two of a series of events related to the joint APEC-OECD Co-operative Initiative on Regulatory Reform were also held focusing on further implementation of the regulatory principles and exchange of information on good regulatory practices.
Strengthening the Multilateral System
The CTI coordinated and undertook the work program to implement the APEC Strategic Plan for WTO-related capacity building that was endorsed by Ministers in November 2000. Twelve projects in total, financed from APEC's TILF Funds, were developed to assist developing economies to address concerns over certain aspects of the implementation of WTO Agreements.