Asia-Pacific Business Seeks Greater Transparency to Move Goods

L-R: Laurie Goldman of Levi Strauss & Co; Arrow Augerot of USTR and Raymond Yee of DHL
L-R: Laurie Goldman of Levi Strauss & Co; Arrow Augerot of USTR and Raymond Yee of DHL

Initiative to make trade information more widely available in the region discussed during APEC leaders’ meeting in Singapore

New York and Singapore, November 13, 2009 – Leading companies are urging governments throughout Asia and the Pacific to make their tariffs and related rules more transparent, saying this could provide a big boost to the region as trade rebounds from the past year’s severe drop-off.

To help draw attention to the complexity of trade in the region, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) and other members of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition, organized a November 12 business discussion on the APEC Transparency Initiative on Tariffs and Preferential Rules of Origin during the APEC CEO Summit and Leaders Meeting in Singapore.

Failure to take advantage of the current “spaghetti bowl” of regional trade agreements can be costly, attendees agreed. Raymond Yee, vice president for Asia-Pacific customs and regulatory affairs with DHL Express, provided his perspective on sourcing within the region and the possible impact of this initiative on business. Planning related to trade agreements is a crucial yet complex process.  Company representatives recognize the need for the transparency initiative and believe it would facilitate trade by businesses of all sizes across the APEC region.

Proposed by the U.S. and Japan and endorsed by APEC trade ministers in July 2009, the APEC Transparency Initiative aims to help companies take advantage of the significant trade liberalization in the region.  Arrow Augerot, deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for APEC affairs, was on hand to discuss the initiative at the November 12 event.

“This initiative is very timely because the lack of publicly available information on tariffs and preferential rules of origin has made it difficult for companies to take full advantage of the many free trade agreements negotiated in the APEC region,” said Laurie Goldman, senior manager of worldwide government affairs and public policy with Levi Strauss & Co.  “What we are proposing is a central database that would be searchable and up-to-date.  We would like to review the initiative with the broader APEC business community, exploring how to integrate information from all APEC economies.”

APEC trade ministers have pledged to provide the public with up-to-date and accurate tariff and rules of origin information by the time of their next meeting in June 2010, and to develop an APEC-specific website on tariffs and rules of origin by next year’s APEC leaders meeting in November.

The National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council are co-chairs of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition, which encompasses many leading U.S. industry groups.

NCAPEC is the only U.S. business association focused exclusively on facilitating American private sector input to the APEC process. The National Center functions as a conduit for U.S. businesses into APEC by serving as the Secretariat for the three U.S. executives who are appointed members of the APEC Business Advisory Council.

The US-ASEAN Business Council is the premier advocacy organization for U.S. Businesses operating in Southeast Asia. The Council serves a select membership of companies, including 7 of the Fortune 10 and 20 of the Dow Jones 30 companies, from its headquarters in D.C. and its five regional offices.

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation.  Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.  More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:

Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

More on the APEC Transparency Initiative and USCIB Involvement:
https://www.uscib.org/apectitrprofile-ud-3933

APEC CEO Summit Website:
http://www.apec2009.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100&catid=38

Co-Chairs of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition:
NCAPEC: http://www.ncapec.org
US-ASEAN Business Council: http://www.us-asean.org

Staff Contact:   Jonathan Huneke

VP, Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5043

Jonathan Huneke is responsible for USCIB’s strategic communications, including media relations, publications, online content and high-level public events. He also manages the work of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.
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