In 2004, Economies worked together to deliver results on several far-reaching APEC initiatives whose objectives are to make it easier for business to trade in the region, support the WTO, and deliver real progress on transparency and the digital economy.
APEC's Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) tabled its annual report to Ministers today. The report details how the CTI helped to implement several APEC initiatives agreed at the Bangkok APEC Leaders' Meeting in 2003 and at past APEC Summits. In 2004, the CTI focused on responding to Leaders' instructions in five priority areas: support for the WTO, trade facilitation, transparency, Pathfinder Initiatives, and structural reform.
"Through the hard work of all 21 member economies, the CTI truly delivered on its five priorities this year, and this was done through working in cooperation with the business community," said the Chair of the Committee, Alan Bowman.
In 2004, the CTI agreed on transparency standards on government procurement. APEC now has transparency standards on nine trade policy areas. This is one of APEC's most substantial results on trade issues in recent years. In 2004, the CTI also developed tools to help member economies implement these standards.
"The APEC transparency standards are the most comprehensive adopted by any international forum." said Mr. Bowman. "One of the main business concerns in the region is the lack of transparency. CTI is tackling this issue and delivering results. Our transparency standards are directly aimed at addressing key business concerns such as timely access to information."
CTI is also the main channel through which APEC implements its 2002-2006 Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP). This year, CTI conducted a mid-term review of the Plan that showed that APEC economies are on track with implementation. In October 2004, CTI organized an Expanded Dialogue on Trade Facilitation with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) that resulted in a commitment to work even more closely with business in the two remaining years of the TFAP.
CTI also endorsed ABAC's views that WTO negotiations on trade facilitation should include commitments on transparency, efficiency, simplification, non-discrimination, procedural fairness, cooperation, and capacity building.
"One of the CTI's key roles is to help APEC to support the WTO. We paved the way for an agreement on trade facilitation at the WTO, and we also trained hundreds of officials from developing economies on WTO issues." said Mr. Bowman "WTO capacity building is one of our key priorities."
The Committee also implemented initiatives in other areas, such as the protection of intellectual property rights, structural reform, the implementation of Pathfinder Initiatives, and in particular, the Pathfinder Statement on Trade and the Digital Economy. In addition, the CTI organized a wide range of capacity building projects across the spectrum of APEC's trade agenda, with a particular focus on trade facilitation in areas such as customs and standards.
The Committee on Trade and Investment also made an important contribution to APEC's security agenda in 2004, through the work of its Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures and its Business Mobility Group, who developed initiatives on customs integrity, document security, advance passenger information (API) systems, and a Regional Movement Alert System (RMAL).