APEC Ministers prepare to meet in Bangkok, later this week (23 - 25 April 2008) to address challenges in telecommunications and information.
With free trade and investment as goal, the swift flow of information between economies is critical. To this end, APEC has already tripled internet access since 2000.
Nonetheless, access and expertise still varies between economies and Ministers have determined to reduce these disparities.
Explains Mr. Worapat Tiewthanom, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Thailand, "Universal access will maximize opportunities for trade and investment; this will have a positive effect on both macro- and micro-economies."
Access to the internet enables small to medium enterprises to participate in a global forum, expanding their range of business opportunities exponentially.
This year, APEC has incorporated a social dimension to its agenda and this will be a significant element in this week's talks. For example, better and more consistent regional infrastructure may be used as a vehicle to address long-term challenges, such as climate change.
Offers Dr. Arnon Tubtiang, APEC Working Group Chair:
"It's quite an interesting dynamic: in a global context, prosperity - and even survival - depends on the ability to exchange knowledge and to make progress toward shared goals. So it is imperative that regional telecommunications be efficient, consistent and coordinated."
Key issues of discussion among Ministers this week will include: reliable technical infrastructures; universal access; ICT skills education; the prevention of cyber crime and abuse; and policies conducive to competition and consumer information.