Regional business leaders signed a declaration this week in Auckland resolving to fight the debilitating effects of corruption in business across the APEC region.
Mr Hernan Somerville, the Chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) said today that "ABAC members will lead by example in each of our economies and encourage the highest standards of integrity and ethics."
"This has also been a year of greatly increased business attention to trade policy," Mr Somerville said.
"ABAC members are relieved that the WTO negotiations are now back on track and urge APEC Leaders to summon the political courage to complete the negotiations. The regional business message is clear that there is no other single factor with such potential to influence global and regional prosperity.
"ABAC members are also worried that the trend to bilateral trade agreements in the region is bringing increased complexity to the business environment and potentially threatening APEC's cohesiveness. Regional business would like APEC economies to adopt best practice guidelines for FTAs in the region.
"ABAC also agreed that APEC will not achieve its objectives of free trade and investment in the region unless APEC adopts a much more ambitious and proactive approach," Somerville said.
"This year ABAC has worked intensively to spell out clearly the regional business perspective. ABAC has suggested that a proposal for a Free Trade Area for the Asia Pacific warrants further study.
"APEC economies must redouble their trade facilitation efforts and take a new pro-business trade and investment reform initiative to accomplish an integrated regional market in which business could operate anywhere as if they were in their own domestic markets.
"We hope APEC Leaders will announce a commitment, in November this year, to undertake a joint scoping study with a view to launch a 'Trans-Pacific Business Agenda' at the time of the APEC Mid Term Review next year."
ABAC will also make detailed presentations to the APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting and the APEC SME Ministers Meeting to be held in September and October respectively in Santiago, Chile. These will be recommendations to strengthen and deepen markets, promote financial services deregulation and reach out broadly to the business community on measures to improve governance, combat corruption and money laundering.
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