SINGAPORE, April 7 — Asia-Pacific business leaders comprising , the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC), concluded their meeting here today, agreeing to submit recommendations to Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade when they meet in Surabaya, Indonesia, in April.
The ministers will gather to take stock of the progress made in achieving regional economic integration in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) and to discuss further steps to deepen the process.
ABAC has always maintained that closer economic integration is the best response to the challenges to growth and stability facing the Apec economies, said its chairman Wishnu Wardhana.
He said ABAC would urge the ministers to stay the course on economic integration and take steps to accelerate its progress.
This will include taking actions to realise the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), enhance foreign direct investments (FDIs) flow, promote the growth of services trade and investments and, improve supply-chain connectivity.
ABAC proposed new mechanisms to bring various stakeholders – particularly the private sector and policy makers - to interact more directly with each other to develop effective responses to common challenges, he said.
The council, working in tandem with the Apec official process, has thus taken the lead in the establishment of public-private sector policy dialogue partnerships on such complex issues as food security, infrastructure development, financial markets and innovation.
“I can see this approach having real dividends for us in ABAC as we work on increasingly complex and cross cutting sets of recommendations,” said Wardhana.
He mentioned in particular two new but critical issues that would benefit from this approach.
“Services trade and investments have always been on Apec’s agenda but has somehow not been given the attention it deserves despite its importance to the Asia-Pacific.
“Hopefully, the Public-Private Sector Dialogue on Services, being organised jointly by ABAC and the APEC Chair, in Surabaya on April 17, will provide the impetus for APEC to develop an active work programme on services trade and investments that stimulates vigorous private sector participation,” he added.
The other issue relates to the Indonesian Chair’s initiative to promote a holistic and coordinated approach to connectivity encompassing the physical movement of goods, people-to-people connection and institutional development.
This would require bringing together a complex set of trade, investment and services issues, including soft and hard infrastructure.
Wardhana said that ABAC was ready to work with Apec in mapping out a multi-year agenda to support this initiative and offer ways to maximise private sector participation, investment and innovation.
On FDIs, ABAC will call on ministers to take the lead in ensuring that their economies remain open to FDIs and to explain the benefits of FDI to growth and job creation.
ABAC will be developing recommendations on reducing barriers to FDI flows and improving public perception of its value.
The APEC Business Advisory Council is the official voice of business in APEC.
It brings together business leaders from each of the APEC’s 21 economies who are appointed by their respective heads of government. – Bernama