National Center for APEC



  • January 30, 2018
    NCAPEC Executive Roundtable
  • February 1 - February 4, 2018
    ABAC I
  • February 24 - March 9, 2018
    First Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM I)
  • March 7, 2018
    SOM Dialogue on the Digital Economy
  • March 13 - March 16, 2018
    Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting (FCBDM)

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Giving U.S. Business a Voice in the Asia-Pacific

Giving U.S. Business a Voice in the Asia-Pacific

The National Center for APEC is dedicated to the proposition that business must have a voice in the development of policies that impact the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. NCAPEC is the only U.S. business association focused exclusively on facilitating American private sector input into Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process.

Complete list of NCAPEC publications

The Philippines’ hosting of APEC reached its de facto halfway point on May 24-25 when trade ministers from APEC’s 21 member economies gathered on the island of Boracay  under the Chairmanship of H.E. Gregory L. Domingo, Secretary of Trade and Industry for the Philippines. Discussions on a range of topics were held under the themes of promoting regional economic integration, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, investing in human capital development and building sustainable and resilient communities.  A portion of the Ministerial meeting was devoted to engagement with private sector representatives from around the APEC region, including Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States. Senior executives and Ministers participated in a candid dialogue that focused on how to improve the business environment in the APEC region.

At the conclusion of the meeting Ministers released a joint communique that provides a preview of some of the deliverables and topics for the APEC Leaders’ meeting, which will be held in Manila in November of this year. Among these are the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), support for initiatives being advanced in the World Trade Organization, and initiatives that fall under the Philippine government’s theme of  inclusivity.

The Boracay Action Agenda aims to provide a framework and timeline for a range of MSME issues being addressed in APEC. Specifically, it calls on APEC members to make it easier for small companies to take advantage of the benefits of free trade agreements by simplifying documentation requirements and leveraging information technology. It further encourages economies to adopt commercially useful de minimis values that will exempt low-value express and postal shipments from customs duties and from certain entry documentation requirements. Finally, it calls on economies to implement policies and programs that will enhance MSME access to financing.

As the 2015 Leaders’ Meeting falls just four weeks prior to the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Kenya (MC10), multilateral trade initiatives will feature prominently on the APEC agenda in Manila. APEC began putting a strong focus on implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement in early 2014, and all economies expect to file “instruments of acceptance” of the TFA by MC10. APEC officials will also be working to reach an agreement to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) between now and November.

The Philippine government circulated proposals on initiatives that aim to advance work under the theme of inclusivity. The APEC Sustainable and Quality Growth Framework, which was put forward in Boracay, aims to build on the APEC Growth Strategy, announced in 2010, by identifying benchmarks and timelines to guide each economy’s efforts to achieve growth. Finally, the Philippines announced plans to hold a high-level meeting on inclusive business on November 12. The event will focus on how companies and governments can work together to promote for-profit business initiatives that contribute to poverty reduction through the inclusion of low income communities in their value chains.

APEC officials will continue to refine and enhance these various initiatives when they convene in Cebu in early September.

APEC officials have joined with the private sector to address the need to maintain food security as the world’s population grows and becomes wealthier. The global population is expected to increase from some 7 billion people today to 9 billion by 2050. Food production will need to increase by 70% to feed this growing and changing population. At the same time populations are urbanizing and becoming richer—60% of Asia’s population will live in urban areas by 2025.Urban populations also put greater stress on an already troubled supply chain. Roughly 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted, and in developing economies, up to 80% of that loss happens between the production and retail phases. For these reasons, food security is an important priority for APEC.

What is food security?

Food security is achieved through sufficient availability of food and the ability to access that food.  Food insecurity leads to hunger, malnutrition, and often to economic and political instability.  Achieving food security requires:

  • Adequate, reliable and sustainable supplies of crop and livestock products, through increased agricultural productivity and more efficient regional and global markets linking demand and supply;
  • An open rules-based system that allows food to flow from areas experiencing surpluses to those experiencing deficits;
  • Efficient and safe distribution systems throughout the supply chain;
  • Efficient agricultural research, extension and education systems, plus adequate agricultural infrastructure and property rights; and
  • A recognition that both public and private sectors have appropriate roles to play and can achieve more if they work together.

The above objectives must be pursued simultaneously as each of these policies contributes to the effectiveness of the others. 

Private sector involvement

With the APEC Business Advisory Council  (ABAC) as a driving force, the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) was created during the US hosting year to mobilize and integrate the private sector with  governments’ efforts to achieve a food system structure by 2020 sufficient to provide lasting food security to APEC member economies.  Since 2011, a strong emphasis has been placed on establishing the PPFS. John Deere, Cargill and ADM are the three U.S. members of the PPFS.

On May 11 of this year, members of PPFS and other private sector representatives met in Singapore to discuss establishing an Asia Pacific Food Industry Forum.  The meeting was co-sponsored by ABAC and Food Industry Asia (FIA).  The Forum is intended to provide further engagement for the private sector to make a more meaningful contribution to the PPFS process and APEC’s overall food security agenda. 

PPFS also recently met in Boracay, Philippines from May 14-16.  The meeting provided background on the Workplan of PPFS 2014, which focused on the theme of strengthening partnerships between the public and private sector for food security.  Key outcomes from PPFS for 2014 included the APEC Food Security Road Map Towards 2020 (version 2014), the APEC Food Security Business Plan (2014-2020), the APEC Action Plan for Reducing Food Loss and Waste, the Action Plan to Enhance Connectivity of APEC Food Standards and Safety Assurance, and the Beijing Declaration on APEC Food Security.

What’s next?

The next PPFS meeting is scheduled to take place from October 2-3, 2015 in Iloilo City, Philippines.  The meeting is to take place alongside the High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy (HLPD) to be held on  October 4, 2015.

APEC’s support of the multilateral trading system reaches back to the first APEC Ministerial Meeting in Canberra, Australia in November 1989, where Ministers affirmed their commitment to concluding the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. That support continues today and is now focused, in part, on implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The agreement is part of the “Bali Package” which was agreed to by WTO members at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.  The TFA includes provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, and seeks to promote cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building. The potential reduction in trade costs from a “full” implementation of the TFA is 16.5% of total costs for low income countries, 17.4% for lower-middle income countries, 14.6% for upper-middle income countries and 11.8% for OECD countries.

The scope of the TFA aligns closely with much of the trade facilitation work that APEC has been advancing over the past 13 years. These initiatives include the Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP) I and II, running from 2002 – 2006 and 2007 – 2010, respectively, as well as the Supply Chain Connectivity Framework (SCCF) Action Plan which is currently being implemented. To encourage input from the private sector in implementing its trade facilitation agenda, APEC Trade Ministers created a new public-private forum called the APEC Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2).  A2C2 participants advise APEC economies as they pursue the APEC Leaders goal of improving supply chain performance by 10% by 2015 in terms of reducing the time, cost, and uncertainty of moving goods through the region.  They provide their knowledge and expertise to enhance APEC’s targeted capacity building efforts and technical assistance projects regarding improving supply chain performance and implementing the commitments of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The first meeting of the A2C2 took place on August 15, 2014 in Beijing, China and was very well attended by both public and private sector participants.

So far, APEC’s focus on TFA implementation appears to be paying dividends. According to the WTO website six APEC economies (Hong Kong China, Singapore, the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Australia) have ratified the TFA, and at their recent meeting in Boracay APEC Trade Ministers noted, “…we are committed to submit our instruments of acceptance to the WTO as soon as possible, ideally by MC10, in order to express strong APEC support for a successful Ministerial Conference.”  APEC Ministers will have another opportunity to take up the issue and work to follow through on their commitment when they meet in Manila this November, roughly four weeks prior to the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

NCAPEC attended the APEC Global Supply Chain Event for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), coordinated by The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry in Atlanta, Georgia from June 8-9.  The event's aim was to provide SMEs in APEC economies with a unique opportunity to attend a large event in the United States where they could learn about working with multinational corporations, government regulations, supply chain financing, cold chain technology, smart chain and logistics management, IT chain solutions, and network with a large number of their SME peers, academic institutions, and multinational companies that contract with SME suppliers.

The three sectors of focus in Atlanta were agriculture, food processing and healthcare products.

Held on the Georgia Tech campus, the event was opened by Mr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the President of Georgia Tech, and Mr. Jim Barber, President of UPS International, which is headquartered in Atlanta.

Jim Barber speaking from podium
Jim Barber, President of UPS International, noted that, “For the first time in the history of the world, more than half of the world's exports will be intermediate goods. ..Trade is no longer a zero sum game where one nation wins when another nation loses."

Concurrent sessions led by the United States (Commerce and USTR), the Philippines (Department of Trade and Industry), and the APEC Accelerator Network were held throughout the two-day conference.
Panels and sessions touched on an array of topics, such as:

  • Leveraging the Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges of Taking Your Start-Up Global
  • Growing an Excellent Global Supply Chain for Seafood
  • What Types of Barriers to Trade in Healthcare Products Make it Costly or Prohibitive for Industry
  • SME Finance
  • Developing Successful SME Synergies
  • Scaling up the Global Fish Supply Chain
  • Understanding Tariff Measures

‘SME Supply Chain Financing Panel’ featuring panelists from the International Finance Corporation, the Banker’s Association for Finance and Trade, the Central Bank of the Philippines, Rosenthal and Rosenthal, and Georgia Tech.

Panelists and speakers were recruited from all over the APEC region, and included speakers from: Johnson and Johnson, FedEx, eBay, USDA, Walmart, ProChile, World Bank Group, Coca Cola, and Jollibee Foods Corporation, in addition to several SME participants from around the Asia-Pacific and Atlanta.

Last pic
Ralph Carter, NCAPEC Board Member and Managing Director, Legal, Trade and International Affairs at FedEx discussed how new business practices could help SMEs connect to global supply chains, and how innovation is vital for SMEs to enhance export opportunities. 

The mining sector plays a vital role in the long term success of the Asia Pacific region by providing investment for resource rich economies and driving trade throughout the region. According to the Nickle Institute, the region consumes roughly 60% and produces 70% of the world’s minerals and metals. In spite of the vital role the sector plays in the regional economy, in 2014 the existence of APEC’s Mining Task Force, a government to government working group responsible for coordinating ministerial interactions and preparing policy recommendations, was under review by APEC’s leadership due to its limited agenda and lack of private sector engagement. To determine whether the MTF would be disbanded or have its mandate in APEC renewed, in 2014 the APEC Secretariat commissioned an independent review of the MTF’s performance.

Recognizing an opportunity for private sector engagement, the MTF’s incoming chair, an official from the Chilean Ministry of Mines, met with business representatives from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to discuss possibilities for cooperation in early 2014. Business subsequently played a leadership role by advancing two initiatives. First, in order to create policy guidelines and gather data that could provide the basis for further discussion, NCAPEC gathered a coalition of several international mining companies to commission a study measuring the sector’s economic impact on each individual APEC member economy. Second, ABAC worked closely with the MTF and the Chinese government to organize a Public Private Dialogue (PPD) between business and government officials on the margins of APEC’s mining meeting in Beijing, China. The conversation provided an opportunity for executives and experts to engage officials in an open discussion on topics such as sustainable mining practices and policies that attract investment. Outcomes from the PPD discussion were subsequently shared with APEC’s Ministers Responsible for Mining, who met the following day.

The business engagement in Beijing represented the most substantial public-private interaction within APEC’s mining discussion that had taken place in several years and played a role in not only keeping mining on the agenda, but also laying the groundwork for an ambitious work plan. APEC’s assessment of the MTF noted the value of the private sector’s contribution and strongly recommended further partnership with ABAC and the international mining sector.

Two promising developments will underpin the MTF’s future success. This year the Australian government has agreed to provide the MTF with an initial contribution of roughly 1 million USD to a capacity building fund for projects that advance APEC’s Mining Principles. Interested parties will be invited to prepare proposals outlining how the funding should be used at a special workshop that will be held as part of the next MTF meeting in Cebu, Philippines on Aug 24-26. The discussion will be informed by themes and data from ABAC’s 2014 study and will include breakout sessions designed to facilitate brainstorming between public and private sector representatives in attendance. In addition, ABAC will organize a second PPD shortly afterwards to facilitate an open discussion about the challenges that businesses face in the region as well as opportunities for future partnership. The MTF’s reinvigoration is a textbook example of the opportunities presented by APEC’s rich tradition of public-private partnership and unique convening power. By working together, all parties involved will engage in discussions and capacity building efforts that will lead to a better business climate in the region and positive outcomes for investors, economies and communities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will host a conference focused on consumer markets throughout Asia and the Pacific region on October 29-30 in Orange County, California. Its goal is to provide market intelligence targeting consumer markets in the Pacific Rim, sessions on global branding and marketing, information on financing, and country and industry-specific sessions. For more information and contact details, see their informational flyer here.

Connect with us on our various social media channels to keep up-to-date with Asia-Pacific and APEC related news and events.

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