The intergovernmental Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held its third senior officials meeting September 12-26 in San Francisco. USCIB members and staff played an active role in a wide range of public-private dialogues held throughout the two-week period.
By participating in the APEC process, companies and business groups have the opportunity to lay out their priorities on various trade and investment issues directly to the economies of greatest interest, and participate in dialogues with the officials who ultimately make the policy decisions affecting their industry, according to Justine Badimon, USCIB’s manager of China, APEC and European Union affairs. Business input into APEC is facilitated at the regional level through the APEC Business Advisory Council, and at the U.S. level via the National Center for APEC.
Here is a round-up of several of the areas where USCIB played an especially active role in San Francisco.
Energy and Transportation Ministerial
The senior officials meeting began with joint gathering of APEC transport and energy ministers, hosted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. A main focus was establishing achievable goals for energy efficiency and sustainability in transportation. Ministers and the private sector discussed enhanced regulatory cooperation not only within APEC economies but also more broadly through other international organizations. Ministers pledged to cooperate on cleaner and more energy-efficient transportation in the APEC region, with the goal of reducing energy in economic activity by at least 25 percent by 2030.
Women and the Economy Summit
A first-ever APEC Women and the Economy Summit was hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, with participation from nearly 3,000 ministers, senior government officials, and private sector representatives from the 21 APEC economies. Executive Vice President Ronnie Goldberg attended on behalf of USCIB.
The meeting affirmed APEC leaders’ recognition that gender equality is central to economic and social development, and that equal opportunity for both women supports economic growth and poverty reduction. It culminated with Secretary Clinton’s announcement that APEC governments had committed to taking action to address the most significant barriers hindering women’s full economic participation.
“By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can bring about a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies,” Secretary Clinton said in her remarks. “Because when everyone has a chance to participate in the economic life of a nation, we can all be richer.”
APEC’s work will initially focus on four priority areas: improving access to capital, access to markets, capacity and skills building, and women’s leadership.
Among the materials distributed at the summit was an APEC edition of the OECD Gender Initiative interim report. The OECD is examining gender gaps in education, employment and entrepreneurship, and is developing tools for closing these gaps. USCIB members are providing both policy and practical input to the OECD in this area through a network of OECD-area member organizations and company representatives.
APEC Chemical Dialogue
The APEC Chemical Dialogue, attended by USCIB members and Helen Medina, USCIB’s director of product policy, focused on two projects with the private sector. The first involves organizing a future information-sharing workshop to discuss chemicals in articles and exchange experiences. The workshop will provide a foundation for future discussion on whether work in this area would be valuable and if so, the scope of such efforts.
Secondly, APEC will also hold discussions on transparency and innovation in this sector. Developments in other international discussions touching on chemicals management issues, such as in the Aarhus Convention, or some aspects within the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) process, raise questions about access to and availability of certain chemical information while also protecting intellectual property rights.
The APEC Chemical Dialogue’s Regulatory Best Practice Principles already recognize the importance of proper treatment for confidential business information. APEC members agreed to commission a short paper focusing on the importance of transparency in the availability of information on chemicals and, in turn, the importance of encouraging innovation through the protection of intellectual property rights, including confidential business information.
Secure Trade in the APEC Region
A two-day Secure Trade in the APEC Region conference looked at ensuring security across all levels of the supply chain, while balancing trade facilitation. USCIB member companies, including UPS and Dow Chemical, were represented along with customs and trade officials to give their views on what works in the APEC region and what challenges remain.
Industry representatives emphasized the necessity of enabling trade through the development of guidelines for the supply chain, encouraging a multi-layered approach to risk assessment and harmonizing international standards and codes to be adopted globally. Participants cited successful public-private partnerships, such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and urged such partnerships be allowed to evolve, facilitate information exchange and respond to the security challenges encountered by a dynamic global supply chain.
Participants agreed that APEC has a unique position, as an accessible and open forum where business leaders and government can exchange information and collaborate on priorities for trade. The APEC region also holds expertise and experience in dealing with natural disasters and terrorist acts which affect the global supply chain, and this knowledge can add value to the international discussion on security in trade. APEC’s role should be to share leadership in this area with other organizations and governments and continue to act as a thought-starter with mechanisms such as the Trade Recovery Program, which was created at APEC and carried out by the World Customs Organization.
APEC Customs-Business Dialogue
With a theme of “Change, Challenge and Opportunity,” the APEC Customs Business Dialogue provided a forum for participants from both the private and public sectors to consider and discuss how the events of 9/11 attacks created significant changes and challenges to customs procedures in the APEC region, as well as opportunities for better collaboration between business and government.
Laurie Goldman, head of global trade policy with Levi Strauss & Co., took part in a panel discussion on “Opportunity: Identifying the Next Generation of Customs-Business Partnerships.”
“The APEC Customs Business Dialogue gives both government and business a chance to address trade problems openly and efficiently in a way that helps to facilitate trade and better focus customs resources,” said Ms. Goldman.
It was widely agreed upon by business participants that APEC economies should work toward establishing guidelines for mutual recognition of AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) programs, and implement mechanisms to increase transparency and improve capacity building. Positive examples of potential customs-business partnerships within APEC were provided, such as the Asia-Pacific Interactive Tariff Database. Nasim Deylami, USCIB’s manager for customs and trade facilitation, will work closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure our engagement with APEC on this issue as we move into 2012.
Heather Shaw, USCIB’s vice president for ICT policy, continued work with APEC’s Electronic Commerce Steering Group with a workshop she organized on September 17 called, APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules: The Value Proposition for Industry, Consumers and Governments. In addition to the workshop, key outcomes of the data protection subgroup included the completion of the Cross-Border Privacy Rules System (CBPR) Pathfinder. Click here to access a separate report on the CBPR.
Gearing up for the CEO Summit
In November, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson will attend the APEC CEO Summit in Honolulu, where President Obama will host his counterparts from each of the APEC economies. The summit will include a full agenda of plenary discussions with business leaders from around the APEC region exploring new developments in health and innovation, financial markets, regulatory reform, green growth and “next-generation” trade issues. The two-day event will also offer opportunities for the business community to engage with APEC leaders. At the conclusion of the summit, the U.S. will hand over hosting duties to Russia for APEC 2012.
For more information about registration for the CEO Summit, please visit the National Host Committee’s website at www.apec2011ceosummit.com or contact USCIB.