USCIB was among the business groups that participated in the second 2011 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) senior officials meeting, which took place last week in Big Sky, Montana. APEC groups 21 leading economies from around the Pacific rim. The United States is hosting this year’s APEC leaders meeting in Honolulu in November as well as three senior officials meetings (the first in Washington, DC, in March, the third in San Francisco in September).
U.S. companies and business associations played an important role in the Montana meeting, helping inform the discussions and laying the groundwork for a CEO summit in Hawaii. Business input to APEC is facilitated at the regional level via the APEC Business Advisory Council, and at the U.S. level through the National Center for APEC.
Executives held numerous breakout sessions and briefings with leading economic officials from around the region. Jonathan Huneke, USCIB’s vice president for communications and public affairs, took part in the Big Sky sessions and chaired meetings with trade officials from Mexico and Malaysia.
Much of the discussion among government officials centered on trade, and on ensuring that small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from commercial opportunities in the APEC region. Trade ministers including U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk explored ways to bolster the multilateral trading system in light of the stalled Doha Round of trade talks in the WTO. Business groups said they remained committed to Doha and urged governments not to abandon the talks. The U.S. delegation also included Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and other top officials.
Other key developments at the Big Sky meetings included:
- Adoption of a code of ethics for the region’s medical devices industry to improve the quality of health care and encourage innovation.
- Signing of an agreement between APEC and the World Bank to strengthen collaboration on food safety in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for over 40 percent of the world’s population and nearly half of global food production.
- Release of an APEC survey on structural reform, which said APEC economies have made significant progress in reforming regulations to better assist businesses.
- Discussions with private-sector leaders on ensuring food security in the region in light of growing populations, insufficient gains in agricultural productivity and limited natural resources.
Looking ahead, USCIB will play an active role at the third senior officials meeting in San Francisco (September 12-26), leading on issues such as chemicals policy, data protection, customs and trade facilitation, energy, and women in the workplace.
Separately, USCIB applauded introduction of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and urges its passage as soon as is practicable.