The member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum made significant progress this year in areas of economic and technical cooperation, according to the annual report of the ECOTECH Sub-Committee. An assessment of 148 projects within APEC shows a range of contributions to training, skills development and information sharing.
"APEC's recognition of economic and technical cooperation has been lifted this year; putting it on a par with its trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation focus," said the Chair of the ECOTECH Sub-Committee, Dr Medhi Krongkaew.
The ECOTECH Sub-Committee coordinates and manages projects contributing to the six broad ECOTECH themes of developing human capital; developing stable, safe and efficient capital markets; strengthening economic infrastructure; harnessing technologies for the future; promoting environmentally sustainable development; and encouraging the growth of SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises). The annual report highlights activities in areas such as energy, fisheries, telecommunications, transportation and tourism.
More than one-third of APEC's projects are aimed at the 'developing human capital' theme and almost all fora have at least one project under this category. Of the 148 projects that have been completed or are in progress in 2001, around 28% involve information gathering (e.g., studies), 47% information sharing (e.g., seminars and websites), and 19% training. The remaining projects cover activities such as developing best practice models and conducting expositions.
Dr Medhi said he was pleased that for the first time in APEC's history, members had agreed this year to prepare ECOTECH Action Plans. "This development will help track individual and collective efforts by each member economy in the advancement of APEC's human resources development objectives", he observed.
Another major accomplishment this year, Dr Medhi said, was the updating of Part II of the 1995 Osaka Action Agenda, which spells out the essential elements for ECOTECH: common policy concepts, joint activities and policy dialogue. "The 2001 update ensures that the Osaka Action Agenda is perpetuated as a living document that provides a clear road map for activities that shape policy dialogues and projects" Dr Medhi added.
Media Backgrounder: ECOTECH
What is it?
ECOTECH or Economic and Technical Cooperation, is aimed at building capacity and skills, particularly in developing member economies, to enable them to advance APEC's trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation (TILF), and sectoral objectives. Those objectives are outlined in the 1995 Osaka Action Plan (updated this year) and the 1996 Manila Declaration. The two documents define how APEC?s ECOTECH agenda is set.
APEC's ECOTECH goals, under the 1996 Manila Declaration, are to:
attain sustainable growth and equitable development in the Asia-Pacific region;
reduce economic disparities among APEC economies;
improve the economic and social well-being of the people; and
deepen the spirit of community in the Asia-Pacific.
Process of implementation
ECOTECH activity which directly supports trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation is mainly dealt with in Part I of the Osaka Action Plan and is coordinated by the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI). Whereas the joint activities and the policy dialogues that each of the sectoral working groups should undertake are dealt with in Part II and, since 1998, have been overseen by the ECOTECH Sub-Committee of the SOM (ESC).
ECOTECH Sub-Committee (ESC)
The ESC was established in April 1998 to assist Senior Officials in coordinating and managing APEC's ECOTECH agenda, as well as to identify value-added initiatives for cooperative action.
The Chair of the ESC is Dr Medhi Krongkaew, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, Thailand.
ECOTECH Deliverables 2001
1. SOM 2001 Report on Economic and Technical Cooperation
The 2001 ECOTECH report provides an assessment of the number and types of ECOTECH projects being conducted by APEC fora and includes reports from individual fora on their ECOTECH activities. Progress in the implementation of key ECOTECH initiatives is presented in Chapter 3 of the report.
2. Update of the Osaka Action Agenda (OAA)
Last year the ESC carried out a review of Part II of the OAA to determine how much had been accomplished since 1995 and whether it needed revision. The ESC found that many of the prescribed activities had been accomplished and the Trade and Investment Database Working Group (TIDWG) had since completed its task and was dissolved in 1999. Moreover, since 1995 Ministers and Leaders had launched more than a dozen new ECOTECH initiatives and the tasks associated with them were not necessarily reflected in the OAA. In summary, the ESC concluded that it was timely for the Joint Activities/Dialogue sections of Part II of the OAA to be updated so that they better reflect ongoing priorities for individual working groups.
In order to ensure that the OAA remained a fundamental reference document "which manifestly articulates APEC's sectoral ECOTECH goals and provides a clear road map for activities that shape policy dialogues and projects by APEC fora", the ESC updated Part II of the OAA this year. It will be submitted to Ministers for endorsement (together with the updated Part I, which was carried out by the CTI).
3. ECOTECH Action Plan
The ESC in 2001 examined options for the establishment of a process to track individual and collective efforts by member economies in economic and technical cooperation. After consideration of its objectives and principles, the ESC at its meeting in Shenzhen, China, in May 2001, recommended the introduction of the 'ECOTECH Action Plan' (EAP).
It was agreed that in the first instance the EAPs would focus on the theme of human resources development (HRD), based on the Common Policy Concepts identified in Part II of the Osaka Action Agenda. The EAPs would be submitted on a voluntary basis, and implemented on a trial basis for two years.
In general, the individual reports seek to move forward the ECOTECH agenda to show the progress APEC has made in ECOTECH and to list what cooperative activities economies are considering introducing in response to HRD goals. The rationale behind the focus on individual and cooperative actions is to share best practices among APEC economies.
Economies can choose to enter into the template, projects or programs that they deem worth sharing with other economies. Interested economies viewing the individual actions of a particular economy could then approach that economy to learn from its experiences. At the same time, member economies could find opportunities to participate in existing cooperative actions implemented by other economies, such as training programs and conferences.