Telecommunications and Information Ministers from the 21 APEC members have unveiled a new five-year strategic action plan to maximize the potential of the internet to drive next generation growth in Asia-Pacific economies and ensure the benefits are widely felt by people in the region.
The plan will steer industry policy in APEC, the world’s largest producing and consuming region of information and communications technology, through 2020. It was endorsed at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of Ministers in Kuala Lumpur and includes an annex that outlines implementation measures in five priority areas:
- Develop and Support ICT Innovation
- Promote a Secure and Trusted ICT Environment
- Promote Regional Economic Integration
- Enhance the Digital Economy and the Internet Economy
- Strengthen Cooperation
Regional officials under the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group will convene in Boracay, The Philippines on 11-16 May to begin implementing the plan—a component of a key two-week APEC meeting cluster there that will culminate with the 2015 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting on 23-24 May.
To support the implementation process, Ministers directed telecommunications and information officials to deepen policy cooperation within a new ad hoc APEC Steering Group on the Internet Economy. The details will be fleshed out in Boracay by APEC Senior Officials who are establishing the group. Ministers also called for a mid-term review of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Strategic Action Plan 2016-2020 to gauge progress and make potential adjustments based on new industry developments.
“We can’t predict what is going to happen next on the innovation front,” explained Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia and Chair of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Ministerial Meeting. “The plan we are taking forward will guide industry policies in the Asia-Pacific in a way that unlocks growth and improves people’s lives yet is sufficiently flexible to navigate inevitable shifts in the technological landscape.”
Telecommunications and information executives, researchers and industry groups helped to cast light on barriers to ICT development and offered recommendations for strengthening the plan’s commercial bandwidth.
“Ministers are going further to build more ICT infrastructure and get faster broadband within Asia-Pacific economies but there is recognition that industry policy can’t stop there,” noted Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “Harnessing the power of networks and new technologies to boost small business participation in regional trade, women’s entrepreneurship and social welfare is critical. Ultimately, it comes down to facilitating access, promoting adoption, improving security and fostering value creation through ICT.”
“Some big things are on the table right now in APEC like interoperability measures to secure cross-border data transfers and moving towards common policies on roaming rates to lower user costs,” Dr Bollard concluded. “An important part of the equation is figuring out standards and regulation that governments can buy into and ensuring that they fit together across the region to create a more growth-enabling environment over the long-term.”
Downloadable high resolution photos of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Meeting are available at this link.
Additional details on cooperation between APEC member economies to advance telecommunications and information issues can be found here.
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