Thousands of delegates from around the world gathered in Beijing from November 8 to 10 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit, the most influential and high-level economic dialogue in the region. The summit brings together heads of state, business leaders and economic experts to share their views on how to promote free trade, innovation, growth and integration in the Asia-Pacific.
USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Helen Medina, senior director of product policy and innovation, attended the summit and met with USCIB members and government officials to discuss American business priorities in the region.
Robinson hosted a bilateral discussion with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Charles Rivkin. Company representatives raised several concerns, including the need to move forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the importance of bilateral investment treaties, and the need to secure a high standard of intellectual property rights in TPP.
President Obama delivered a speech at the APEC Summit on Monday on U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region and the value of trade and economic integration.
“In the 21st century, the pursuit of economic growth, job creation and trade is not a zero-sum game. One country’s prosperity doesn’t have to come at the expense of another’s,” Obama said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening the economic ties between our nations will benefit all our nations. That’s true for the nations of APEC, and I believe it’s particularly true for the relationship between the United States and China.”
Global Value Chains and Trade: Strengthening APEC’s Economic Integration
USCIB organized an event, “Global Value Chains and Trade: Strengthening the Backbone for Greater Economic Integration Across APEC,” through the U.S. APEC Business Coalition. The event convened government and business leaders to discuss the role global value chains (GVCs) play in bolstering Pacific Rim economies.
“In our highly interconnected world, participation in GVCs can produce considerable gains,” said Robinson. “According to a report last year by the OECD, WTO and UNCTAD, developing economies with the fastest growing GVC participation have per-capita GDP growth rates two percent above the average. Likewise, countries that attract more foreign direct investment tend to have higher GVC participation levels and to generate more value added from trade.”
Healthy economies require solid transportation infrastructure and modern customs systems. U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia Zak explained that USTDA has strengthened global value chains in APEC by targeting projects that secure transportation system upgrades. Customs modernization policies are critical for creating an effective global value chain that promotes international trade.
“The U.S. Trade & Development Agency has been pleased to work with public and private sector partners throughout the APEC region to modernize transportation and customs system networks,” said Zak. “This work has not only demonstrated advanced U.S. technologies, but has also led to more efficient global value chains that enable U.S. goods to flow more freely across and within APEC economies.”
The private sector, particularly logistics providers, has an important role to play in streamline trade and the flow of goods along the value chain. UPS’s senior vice president for international public policy Leslie Griffin noted that logistics providers do more than simply store and move goods, they coordinate traditional logistics competencies with manufacturing, distribution, sales and value-add services like customs clearance.
“Intensifying competition and changing customer demands for goods and services have made global value chains more complex and difficult to manage,” Griffin said. “In this environment, logistics providers have become value chain integrators.”
During the discussion, companies identified a number of obstacles that APEC economies must overcome in order to leverage the benefits of global value chains:
- forced localization requirements that impede the flow of goods and services;
- restrictions on cross border data flows, which limit cloud computing and e-commerce;
- differences in customs procedures, including duplicative document requirements and complicated administrative requirements, which result in multiplied costs and time to reach the market;
- lack of regulatory transparency and additional regulatory barriers for products or services from country to country.
Robinson also attended a “Women in the Economy” side meeting hosted by USCIB members Microsoft, Chevron and Wal-Mart in coordination with the U.S. APEC Business Coalition. APEC officials reiterated the importance of equal gender participation in the economy, and USCIB will continue to advocate for the inclusion of this issue throughout the work of APEC, as outlined in our priorities.
USCIB recently released its “2015 APEC Priority Issues and Recommendations,” which outlines policies that APEC economies can pursue towards freer trade, greater economic integration, and easier movement of goods and services across borders and along the value chain. USCIB will continue to work within APEC with our business and government partners in the coming Philippines host year to ensure that these issues remain in the agenda.
Business Applauds APEC’s Work on Trade Facilitation
The U.S. private sector applauded APEC’s efforts to forge ahead on initiatives to accelerate trade and economic growth through the APEC Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2), amid challenges surrounding implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
In 2010, APEC Leaders committed to achieve a 10 percent improvement by 2015 in the performance of the regional supply chain, as measured by reductions in cost, time, and uncertainty. In 2014, APEC established the A2C2 to leverage outside expertise in helping developing economies improve supply chain performance through targeted, focused capacity building and technical assistance.
In a joint statement, USCIB and the National Center for APEC called the effort “a strong example of the kind of substantive work APEC is doing to improve supply chain performance and help economies implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.”
“U.S. companies and associations trading in the Asia-Pacific have valuable experience moving goods and services seamlessly, quickly, and inexpensively through the region. The A2C2 is an excellent opportunity for the U.S. private sector to lend its expertise to APEC’s supply chain initiative on an ongoing and substantive basis,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson.
Staff contact: Kristin Isabelli