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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministers met on November 8, 2017 in the central city of Danang under the chairmanship of Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Tran Tuan Anh, Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade.
They have released a joint statement, underscoring co-operation for the benefit of the Asia-Pacific region.
“Under the theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future,” we are committed to strengthening co-operation and taking joint actions to foster regional economic linkages and growth for a dynamic, inter-connected, and prosperous APEC community and to promote an Asia-Pacific partnership for inclusive and sustainable development,” read the statement.
“We advance our work with a focus on the following APEC 2017 priorities: (i) Promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; (ii) Deepening regional economic integration; (iii) Strengthening micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises’ (MSMEs) competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; and (iv) Enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change.”
To this end, the ministers pledged to take many actions, including those focused on services and investment, the internet and digital economy, and environmental goods and services.
In terms of services and investment, the ministers welcomed the progress achieved so far and encouraged further implementation of the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap. This includes the initiative on developing an APEC-wide index on the regulatory environment of trade with a view to eventually covering all members based on the outcomes of the pilot programmes and member economies’ differences, as well as the initiative to develop a set of non-binding principles for domestic regulation of the services sector.
The ministers stressed the importance of capacity building and supporting MSMEs’ integration into the global value chain in the services industry.
|APEC ministers also agreed on specific action plans and priority areas|
The ministers also agreed on the action plan to conduct an interim review in 2018 on the Manufacturing-Related Services Action Plan, and encourage economies to report on regulatory regimes and the policy environment in manufacturing-related services.
The ministers will encourage the continued implementation of the Investment Facilitation Action Plan, providing momentum for economies to enhance capacity building, support more investment and policy dialogues, and promote inclusive business and community engagement to highlight the benefits of investment and encourage investment that supports inclusive economic growth.
In terms of the internet and digital economy, bearing in mind the area’s role in promoting innovative development, the ministers emphasised the opportunities that the internet and digital economy offer to achieve sustainable, inclusive, and innovative growth, including businesses' participation, particularly MSMEs’ in GVCs and the global market.
The ministers commended the achievements of the Ad Hoc Steering Group on the Internet Economy and support the APEC Roadmap on Internet and Digital Economy. The ministers encouraged member economies to implement the roadmap effectively.
The ministers encouraged economies’ initiatives to explore new areas of potential economic growth in the area of digital trade, including identifying building blocks. As building consumer trust in the use of the internet is critical to the growth of both the internet and the digital economy in the region, the ministers will support the continued dialogue between the public and private sectors to strengthen this trust through appropriate consumer protection and privacy rules.
To strengthen the APEC's leadership in promoting cross-border e-commerce in the region, the ministers endorsed the APEC Cross-Border E-commerce Facilitation Framework. They emphasised that MSMEs’ participation in the digital economy should foster inclusive growth and reduce inequality.
In that regard, the ministers recognised the importance of the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System, a voluntary mechanism whose participants seek to expand participation. The ministers will support enhanced co-operation in this area, including capacity building initiatives.
Regarding environmental goods and services, the ministers commend the progress in reducing tariffs to 5 per cent or less on the 54 products on the APEC List of Environmental Goods and strongly urged economies that have yet to fulfil this commitment to do so as soon as possible. The ministers produced great progress in the implementation of the Environmental Services Action Plan and looked forward to further concrete outcomes.