APEC has made a good start towards achieving its aspirational goal of improving the ease of doing business across the Asia-Pacific region by 25% by 2015, according to Dr Takashi Omori, chair of APEC’s Economic Committee.

APEC has been working with member economies to make it cheaper, faster and easier to do business in the region in five key areas: starting a business, getting credit, enforcing contracts, trading across borders and dealing with permits.

An assessment shows APEC is making good progress toward the 5% interim improvement target by 2011. APEC’s improvement in the five areas between 2009 and 2010 was 2.8%, exceeding a pro rata benchmark of 2.5%, the assessment says.

Although the assessment is good news, APEC must push ahead with assisting economies to carry out further regulatory reform to improve the environment for businesses, especially small and medium sized ones, trading around the region, Dr Omori said.

“Promising progress has been reported in the areas that the Economic Committee is directly responsible for,” Dr Omori said.

“Although APEC is making good overall progress toward the interim target, achieving the 25 percent by 2015 will require considerably more work,” he said.

The Economic Committee and APEC’s independent research arm, the Policy Support Unit, conducted the interim assessment based on the World Bank’s Doing Indicators data. The assessment has been presented to APEC senior officials in Honolulu, and is available for download from the APEC website.

The APEC Economic Policy Report to be published next year will assess APEC’s full-year 2011 progress using the recently released 2011 World Bank data.

APEC has carried out capacity building projects, including workshops and seminars, to assist economies improve administrative procedures and undertake regulatory reforms in the five key areas. APEC is now implementing programs tailored to the improvement needs of individual economies, as part of efforts to meet the 2015 target.

The efforts are part of APEC’s wider strategy for structural reform that aims to achieve strong, balanced and inclusive economic growth in the region. APEC Leaders last year endorsed the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform that encourages improvements to institutional frameworks, regulations and government policies including those that promote open, well-functioning, transparent and competitive markets.

Dr Omori said the Economic Committee has made good progress this year in implementing the strategy, pointing to various activities to facilitate reform in the region. The committee will also examine the specific plans set out by APEC’s 21 economies so it can tailor individual activities to provide further support.

Individual APEC economies this year outlined their priorities and benchmarks for tracking progress on structural reform. This report has also been presented to APEC senior officials and is available for download from the website.