ABAC 2016 Report to APEC Economic Leaders: Quality Growth and Human Development
ABAC Members at the 2013 ABAC IV meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
A key APEC milestone was the 1995 creation of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) By 1993, APEC had recognized the need for private sector input to their discussions on trade and investment liberalization, facilitation and capacity building. APEC Leaders first established an APEC Eminent Persons Group (1992-1995) and the Pacific Business Forum (1993-1995) to identify how it could engage the private sector more actively and effectively in APEC discussions, since the focus of APEC's work was so directly tied to business and economics in the region. Both of these bodies made a strong recommendation to the APEC Leaders to formalize the business consultation process in APEC.
At the 1995 Leaders' Meeting in Osaka, Japan, Leaders created the ABAC as a permanent institutional mechanism for APEC to draw on for private sector input. ABAC effectively formalized the private sector's role in APEC, ensuring it was provided with a seat at every APEC meeting. ABAC has enhanced APEC policy makers' ability to produce outcomes that are directly meaningful and relevant to the real needs of companies seeking to trade in the region.
How ABAC Works
President Obama with former ABAC USA Chair Deb Henretta, Procter & Gamble at the ABAC Dialogue with Leaders in 2011.
ABAC meets on a quarterly basis to assess the regional business climate and develop specific input to APEC officials at the ministerial and working group levels on how "doing business" can be made easier. ABAC compiles these recommendations in an annual Report to Leaders which is presented to APEC Leaders prior to their annual summit in the fall of each year.
The annual ABAC Dialogue with Leaders is another key element of ABAC's work that takes the discussions, projects and initiatives and elevates them into direct discussion with APEC Leaders. ABAC's annual report provides the starting point for discussions in the Leaders' Dialogue with ABAC, but the Leaders' own questions and areas of interest steer these conversations into a wide range of areas of economic and trade policy, where the views from the Business Advisory Council members provide valuable context for the Leaders' own thinking on these issues, and vice versa.
ABAC Members also regularly attend APEC ministerial-level meetings to ensure that there is a significant and substantive interaction with the private sector. Meetings of Ministers of Trade, Ministers of Finance, SME Ministers, Energy Ministers and Transport Ministers regularly include interactions with the ABAC and other regional business executives. As part of this interaction, ABAC issues a letter to each Ministerial meeting outlining key private sector recommendations.
ABAC's letters can be seen here.
ABAC is comprised of up to three businesspersons from each APEC member economy who are appointed to serve on the Council by the Leaders of their respective economies. ABAC Members represent a range of business sectors, including small and medium enterprises. A current list of ABAC Members can be seen here.
Under the leadership of President Obama, the U.S. government has appointed Bart Peterson,
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications at Eli Lilly and Company, Richard Cantor, Chief Risk Officer, Moody's Corporation and Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Microsoft (see their biographies here).
ABAC Working Groups
The REIWG works on a range of issues on the trade agenda with the ultimate goal of establishing a Free Trade Area in Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Focus is given to supporting APEC's trade & investment agenda, identifying and defining next generation building blocks for 21st century trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and making recommendations on value chain and supply chain choke points. The REIWG also provides leadership in developing APEC's services agenda, and tracks the global trade agenda including progress on in the WTO.
The FEWG focuses on increasing financing for small and medium enterprises, financial inclusion, developing and integrating capital markets in Asia, infrastructure finance and investment, as well as improving valuation standards and practices in APEC. The FEWG also provides recommendations on setting standards for strong domestic financial systems to help economies sustain the momentum necessary to effect necessary reforms. In 2012, ABAC proposed the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Financial Forum (APFF), a regional platform for enhanced public-private collaboration to accelerate the development of robust and integrated financial markets in the Asia-Pacific. The APFF was endorsed by APEC Finance Ministers in 2013. More details regarding the APFF can be found on NCAPEC's Financial Services webpage.
The SDWG focuses primarily on building a strong foundation within APEC economies to promote energy security and address the impact of climate change and also looks at ways to improve food security in the region through technology sharing, rural development initiatives, trade facilitation, and an increased focus on public-private partnerships. The SDWG also addresses the development of livable cities and sustainable communities as well as the promotion of healthy and productive workforces.
The SMMEEWG works towards creating an environment that facilitates creation, growth and sustainability of SMMEs. The SMMEEWG has a holistic agenda that promotes policies that support SMME start-up and sustainability, facilitate their economic inclusion and internationalization, and ultimately build long term capacity for SMME success so that they may ultimately grow to become large enterprises. The SMMEEWG also focuses on increased economic inclusion, particularly among women entrepreneurs.
The CWG works towards enhancing people-to-people, physical, and institutional connectivity. Key initiatives within the CWG include: accelerating infrastructure development, maximizing human capital potential, advancing the APEC Connectivity Blueprint, promoting good regulatory practices (GRP), and strengthening the rule of law, including anti-corruption.
ABAC USA Secretariat
The National Center for APEC serves as the Secretariat for the three U.S. ABAC members. In that capacity, NCAPEC prepares briefing materials, staffs ABAC meetings, and conducts an annual Executive Roundtable with senior U.S. business representatives to provide input to the ABAC members. The National Center for APEC also coordinates with the U.S. ABAC members and their counterparts around the region to ensure that U.S. ABAC participation flows smoothly.