Headlines

Regional connectivity
to top APEC agenda

The first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) concluded on Thursday with its 21 member economies coming up with a number of deliverables to work out during the upcoming meeting in Bali in October.

The chairman of APEC’s SOM, Yuri O. Thamrin, said that the two main deliverables for the APEC summit would be the establishment of the APEC Connectivity Framework to facilitate economic activities and promote regional integration and a partnership on infrastructure development and investment through public-private partnerships.

“We hope, among other things, that the outcome of the APEC meetings will strengthen trade and investment cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, and also open new opportunities in both areas,” Yuri said after the conclusion of the meeting in Jakarta.

At the end of the meeting that began on Jan. 25, senior officials also approved other proposals from Indonesia, the chair of the APEC this year. Those proposals included building synergy to promote trade and investment partnerships within APEC countries in preparation for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting, which will also be held in Bali in December, as well as promoting maritime issues in various areas of cooperation and capacity building for farmers to support food security.

During the meeting of the Committee on Trade and Investment, Indonesia also conveyed its proposal to expand the list of 54 environmental goods that would be subject to a reduction of import tariffs by 2015 by including agricultural products, such as palm oil and natural rubber, to represent interests of developing economies.

Iman Pambagyo, one of Indonesia’s senior officials at APEC, said that the proposed framework on connectivity would cover physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity, similar to what had been applied earlier by the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN).

“We expect this framework will boost supply-chain performance within the Asia-Pacific region by 10 percent by 2015,” said Iman, the Trade Ministry’s director general for international trade cooperation.

The framework had been established through a supply-chain connectivity initiative that began in 2010 and highlighted chokepoints impeding connectivity, he said.

According to Iman, APEC members will need to determine a baseline for connectivity performance to measure its achievement by 2015. The first SOM will lay the foundations for a meeting of APEC ministers responsible for trade in Surabaya on April 20-21 and the APEC summit in Bali on Oct. 7-8.

Set up in 1989, APEC accounts for 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 44 percent of global trade.

Tariffs between members who have agreed on opening trade with each other through most-favored nation agreements, have declined from 17 percent in 2002 to 5.8 percent in 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, APEC members have been able to push down transaction costs by 5 percent, or a savings of US$58.7 billion for business.

In 2011, total trade between Indonesia and APEC members stood at $289.3 billion, up 28.98 percent from a year earlier, accounting for 75 percent of the country’s overall trade with the world.

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