Assisting all APEC Member Economies to fully apply counter-terrorism measures to meet International Maritime Organization standards is one of the priorities of the 23rd Meeting of the APEC Transportation Working Group in Beijing, China, on April 19-23.
Implementation of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code has been identified by APEC Economies as an urgent task to ensure that ships are able to safely load or unload cargo at APEC ports.
Other issues on the APEC Transportation Working Group (TPTWG) meeting agenda include a review of progress on implementation of APEC's eight steps for more competitive air services, assessing options for the liberalization of maritime services and addressing road safety in Asia Pacific in response to the last World Report of the World Health Organization.
Lead Shepherd of the APEC Transportation Working Group, Mr Kevin Sample said full implementation of the ISPS Code has been identified by other APEC fora as a high priority to ensure trade is not undermined by the terrorist threat.
"The deadline for ports to adopt the ISPS Codes is 1 July 2004 and the APEC Transportation Working Group is assisting all APEC economies to meet this goal," Mr Sample said.
"The failure to implement the ISPS Codes by the deadline will lead to serious difficulties for affected ports.
"The recent Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) forum noted that ports failing to implement ISPS Codes would likely face a reduction in maritime business and trade.
"The STAR Conference also recommended increased cooperation between all stakeholders to ensure the timely implementation of the codes. This request from the STAR Conference is on the Beijing meeting agenda.
"To facilitate the ISPS Code implementation the TPTWG held an ISPS workshop and the United States launched a website (www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mp/ISPS/shtml) designed to assist economies in complying with requirements of the Code.
"APEC's Counter-Terrorism agenda has particular significance for the Transportation Working Group. The Group plans to reinvigorate the Aviation Safety Expert Group and initiate consideration of rail security.
Tasks have been mandated by Leaders in the APEC Leaders' Statement on Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth and these will be further clarified in Beijing.
"The terrorist threat is seen as one of the greatest threats to APEC's Free Trade and Investment goals. APEC has placed great attention on ensuring that trade within the region is not only secure but is also safe."
Kevin Sample said the 23rd meeting of the APEC Transportation Working Group will be an outstanding opportunity for APEC Member Economies to assist each other to meet the regional transport challenges of today.
This meeting of the APEC Transportation Working Group Meeting is also significant as it is the last meeting prior to the APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting in July.