The Jakarta Post
The APEC business group, which consists of several top regional corporate leaders, called on its 21-member economies to expedite the development of infrastructure as well as trade and investment liberalization to spur economic growth in the region.
The call was part of recommendations issued by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) after a two-day meeting with member economy leaders in Nusa Dua, Bali on Monday.
The recommendations also covered the enhancement of supply chain connectivity for goods and services as well as the promotion of small- and medium-sized companies.
One of the key points cited by the business group was the need to take deliberate steps to improve their ability to attract direct foreign investment in infrastructure.
'ABAC recommends that APEC establish a regional framework under a multi-year initiative to coordinate capacity building and sharing of best practices in infrastructure finance in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership,' the report said.
Wishnu Wardhana, chair of ABAC this year, underlined the necessity to offset massive infrastructure deficit with private sector investment, including more innovative financing arrangements.
'The lack of infrastructure projects and the slow implementation of public-private partnerships [PPPs] are a real concern to investors. ABAC is prepared to contribute to this effort through the development of an infrastructure investment checklist and through engagement with the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership,' Wishnu, who is also president director of Indonesia's major energy firm PT Indika Energy, said in his introduction to the report.
In the report ABAC also addressed concerns on regulatory incoherence seen across the Asia-Pacific region, as it was a major barrier to business.
The business group referred to findings by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) last year, which pointed out a lack of regulatory transparency as the most pressing issue for Asia-Pacific free trade agreements.
'Modern supply chains are global. Regulators must take into account that components are sourced from around the world. Inefficient regulations in just one economy can impact the entire supply chain and impose significant costs on business,' the report said.
Founded in 1989, APEC represents 40 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and 44 percent of global trade.
Between 2007 and 2010, APEC economies already succeeded in cutting down transaction costs by 5 percent, which resulted in savings of US$58.7 billion for business due to trade facilitation measures.