APEC Endorses More Ambitious Structural Reform in the Midst of Economic Crisis
Lima, Peru, 19 August, 2008
Economic crisis can be an opportunity for improvements in structural policies, according to APEC Officials. Crisis, they reason, creates demand for better regulations and competition policies, and good governance.
Shortly after the inaugural Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting in Melbourne (3-5 August 2008), the first such meeting in APEC's 20 year history, APEC Officials have endorsed an ambitious work plan for the coming APEC year.
Explains Professor Bob Buckle, Economic Committee Chair: "Structural reform is necessary in order to emerge from economic crisis, such as we are experiencing globally, right now."
Buckle pointed to the experiences of New Zealand and Australia in the 1980s 1990s and to the visible progress of countries such as Chile and Peru over the past two decades.
But APEC does not consider structural reform a quick fix. "Structural reform is like maintenance," says Buckle. "The results are not immediately obvious. They take time."
If SMEs are to reap the benefits of globalization, economies need to be able to attract foreign direct investment. This demands reliable supply chains and these can exist only where solid governance structures exist.
"The state matters. Investors want relationships to be on proper and ethical grounds but the decision as to whether or not to enter an economy is based on the quality of domestic institutions and policy settings," explains Ken Waller of the APEC Business Advisory Council, speaking on behalf of the private sector.
In response to the concern of some economies that a lack of education -particularly among developing economies - could serve as an impediment to structural reforms, the 2009 agenda will emphasise capacity building in aspects of good regulatory, competition and governance structures.
Today, officials endorsed five new projects to be implemented in 2009. These included a training course on corporate governance to be hosted by Vietnam, a seminar in corporate governance and social responsibility for SMEs to be hosted by Thailand, a seminar on regulatory reform to be hosted by Singapore, and a fifth training course in competition policy to be hosted by Chinese Taipei.