An interim assessment reveals that APEC member economies are on track to meet their target of a ten percent improvement in the region’s supply chain performance by 2015, in terms of time, cost and uncertainty.

Identifying ways to further strengthen supply chain performance, based on a closer examination of this progress, was the focus of a gathering of APEC trade experts in Surabaya that concluded on Sunday. It sets the stage for APEC Trade Ministers and Senior Officials meetings here later this week.

“Many goods, particularly manufactured goods, cross borders multiple times during the production process,” said John Larkin, Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment. “Ensuring that supply chains operate smoothly, efficiently and at a low cost can help to lift businesses and deliver a wider range of products to consumers at lower prices.”

The APEC Supply Chain Connectivity Framework Action Plan, launched by member economies in 2010, focuses on eight key chokepoints. Examples include a lack of transparency and awareness among government agencies on policies affecting the logistics sector, and inadequate transport networks and infrastructure.

The interim assessment evaluates the work taken by APEC economies toward addressing these concerns and the measurable effects on improving the processes in the supply chain. It reveals that they have completed 77 percent of the actions listed in their plan for improving supply connectivity.

“These results reflect promising progress in terms of project completion and implementation, and, more importantly, suggest that we are moving closer to achieving our supply chain improvement target,” Larkin noted.

The time needed to move goods in the region has dropped seven percent over the last three years, the interim assessment indicates. There has also been an increase in the performance of shipment quality and physical inspection.

“The reductions that we have seen in the region’s trade times and supply chain uncertainty should ultimately translate into significant cost savings for businesses and consumers,” said Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit which administered the interim assessment.

“Supply chain disruptions due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods appear to have contributed to a temporary increase in costs for importers and exporters,” he explained. “These findings underscore the potential real world impact of pursuing further actions to mitigate such disturbances.”

The interim assessment recommends better regulatory transparency, and further application of information and communications technology. It also calls for greater support for small and medium enterprises in the logistics and transportation sectors.

The recommendations emphasize actions that are expected or have been proven to make a significant and tangible impact in improving supply chain performance. They are based, in part, on the results of a self-assessment survey of APEC economies.

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