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APEC Helps Business Save Time and Money


Hon Lockwood Smith
New Zealand Minister for International Trade
Chair, APEC Ministerial Meeting

APEC¡¦s trade facilitation work plays a critical role in improving conditions for business through assisting them to avoid delays and cut costs, according to Lockwood Smith, Chair of the APEC Ministerial Meeting and New Zealand¡¦s Minister for International Trade.
"The APEC Ministerial Meeting has highlighted the importance of facilitation work given its ability to deliver tangible, specific and measurable benefits to doing business within the region," said Dr Smith.
"APEC is responding to business demand for less paperwork, simpler procedures, easier access to information and a more level playing-field for conducting business in the region. This work is improving certainty and delivering consistency in regulatory and legal frameworks," Dr Smith said.
Highlights of APEC¡¦s trade facilitation work to date include:
„h Faster customs clearances and more consistent customs evaluations
„h Expanded e-commerce and paperless trading
„h Easier access to government procurement markets
„h Simplified business travel
„h Uniform standards for food, electrical, machinery and rubber products
„h Lower cost of trade in electrical and telecommunications equipment
„h Simplified sales of telecommunications services
„h Less risk for investment in energy infrastructure
„h Expansion of market opportunites for architects, engineers and accountants
„h Less waste in fresh seafood trade
„h Better Y2K preparedness for air travel
„h Market access information via the internet on tariffs, investment, e-commerce, intellectual property, business travel, government procurement, business opportunities, marine ports, labour markets and business disputes
"These initiatives facilitate the process of trading into other markets, and when taken together, deliver real benefits to people doing business around the region.
ENDS
Inquiries: Ben King, Press Secretary 025 514 790
Attachment: APEC¡¦s Trade Facilitation Achievements
Attachment
APEC¡¦S Trade Facilitation Achievements
Faster Customs Clearances
APEC has introduced faster and more certain customs clearance and inspection. Regional customs computer systems will in future communicate directly without paperwork, through the adoption of a uniform electronic communications system. Currently an average trade transaction involves 40 documents, 200 data elements and the re-keying of 60 to 70 per cent of the data. Paperless trading will cut these requirements dramatically. The UN/EDIFACT communications system was developed in the United Nations in 1985 but had not been adopted in most APEC economies because of infrastructure limitations and the need for technical assistance. APEC has provided assistance to overcome these constraints in Brunei; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Mexico; Philippines; Papua New Guinea; Thailand and Vietnam.
More Consistent Customs Evaluations
APEC is helping regional economies to adopt a common system for consistent and transparent customs valuations of traded goods. Customs valuations in APEC economies currently vary considerably and arbitrary or fictitious values may lead to distorted or unfair customs levies. APEC is providing training and technical assistance to enable its members to implement the internationally recognised WTO Valuation Agreement by the year 2000, including Brunei; Chile; China; Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Singapore; Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
Expanded E-Commerce and Paperless Trading
APEC economies are committed to a goal of paperless trading by 2005 for developed economies and 2010 for developing economies. APEC is assisting its members to meet these goals and is improving business¡¦s electronic access to markets through its Blueprint for Action on E-Commerce. The Blueprint guides economies to develop the legal, regulatory, technical, operating and trading environments required by business to adopt paperless trading and to take full advantage of the expanded market opportunities offered by e-commerce. It is estimated that e-commerce will represent between 1.3 and 3.3 per cent of global GDP by 2001, equivalent to three times the size of the Australian economy.
Easier Access to Government Procurement Markets
APEC is assisting business to access government procurement markets in the region, worth an estimated 10-15 per cent of GDP. The APEC Government Procurement Homepage provides information on tendering opportunities and government procurement regimes, including policies, legislation, regulations, practices and procedures. APEC is also providing more open and consistent procurement systems and practices for businesses competing for government contracts, through the APEC non-binding Principles on Government Procurement.
Expansion of Markets for Architects, Engineers and Accountants
APEC is assisting architects, engineers and accountants to sell their services more easily. The APEC Directory of Professional Services expands market opportunities for business with the provision of fast and easy access to information on the requirements and procedures for qualification, licensing of individuals and firms and establishment of a temporary or permanent presence in APEC economies
Simplified Business Travel
APEC is making business travel much easier within the region. Multiple entry visas, visa waiver arrangements and internet access to visa requirements have greatly simplified business travel. Visa-free short-term entry is available through the APEC Business Travel Card to participating APEC economies (Australia, Chile, Hong Kong China, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines and Malaysia). Card-holders may also access special APEC lanes at major international airports. Over 2000 business people are issued with a card.
Uniform Standards for Food, Electrical, Machinery and Rubber Products
APEC will align domestic standards with international standards by the year 2005 for goods ranging from televisions, radios, refrigerators, videos, air-conditioners, rubber gloves, condoms and food labelling. This will save business the cost and time involved in manufacturing to different product standards and meeting individual labelling and testing requirements in each APEC economy.
Lower Cost of Trade in Electrical Equipment
APEC is cutting the cost of trade in goods such as computers, toasters, televisions, radios and power-tools. The APEC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on testing for conformity assessments for electrical and electronic goods eliminates the need for separate testing in each importing economy. This arrangement will cover intra-APEC trade in excess of US$ 230 billion per annum.
Lower Cost of Trade in Telecommunications Equipment
APEC is cutting the cost of trade in goods such as phones, faxes, modems, PABXs and radio transmitters. The Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on testing of conformity assessments for telecommunications equipment avoids the need for separate testing in each importing economy. Trade in telecommunications equipment in the region is estimated to be worth $US 50 billion per year. It is estimated that the MRA will save five per cent of the cost of new product development, cut six months off the placement of new products in markets, and reduce marketing costs for new products by up to thirty per cent. Industry is leading the implementation of the MRA and advising governments on necessary adjustments to their regulatory regimes.
Simplified Sales of Telecommunications Services
APEC is assisting the sale of telecommunications services within the region by simplifying the negotiation of telecommunications contracts. Easier commercial access to telecommunications networks and greater certainty for both suppliers and purchasers of services will be provided though the APEC Framework for Telecommunications Interconnection. The Framework includes detailed non-prescriptive conditions for inclusion in telecommunications contracts, and an overview of terms, principles and tools to be drawn on during negotiations.
Less Risk for Investment in Energy Infrastructure
APEC is reducing risk for investors in energy infrastructure in the region. Energy suppliers will be able to make better informed investment decisions through the provision of a transparent investment environment provided by the APEC Manual of Best Practice Principles for Independent Power Producers. The Principles cover institutional and regulatory structures, tender/bid processes and evaluation criteria, power purchase arrangements and associated tariff structures, and financing and its implications.
Less Waste in Fresh Seafood Trade
APEC is helping business to minimise wastage and transport times for fresh seafood to ensure the delivery of fresher and healthier products. The APEC Manual on Air-shipped Live and Fresh Seafood provides customs, health and technical guidelines on preparing and packaging live and fresh seafood air-shipments in APEC markets. Fresh seafood is one of the region¡¦s fastest growing food industries. The current value of trade in live fish in APEC is estimated at over US $1.2 billion, with a growth rate of over 100 per cent over the last five years.
Better Y2K Preparedness for Air Travel
Airports and air traffic control systems in the region will be better prepared for Y2K contingencies as a result of the APEC survey on Y2K compliance. The survey is assisting air traffic authorities to make accurate assessments of their own Y2K program progress and to improve compliance mechanisms where necessary.
Market Access Information via the Internet:
„h Tariffs:
The APEC Tariff Data Base saves business the time and expense of obtaining tariff rates from individual economies for quick comparisons and business decisions.
„h Investment:
The APEC Investment Guidebook provides information on investment regimes in all APEC economies, including regulatory frameworks, investment protection, promotion and incentives, and membership of international agreements.
„h E-commerce:
The APEC E-Com Legal Guide contains information on laws and regulations governing e-commerce.
„h Intellectual property:
The APEC IPR Information Mall and the APEC Intellectual Property Contact List provide information on intellectual property protection regimes and contact details for relevant government officials, business people and academics.
„h Business travel:
The APEC Business Travel Guidebook contains information on regulations and procedures for obtaining business visas and work permits.
„h Government Procurement:
The APEC Government Procurement Homepage provides information on tendering opportunities and government procurement regimes, including policies, legislation, regulations, practices and procedures
„h Business Opportunities:
APECnet allows business to post or identify business opportunities over the internet.
„h Shipping:
The APEC Ports Database provides information on marine port administration, capacity and relevant shipping agents.
„h Labour markets:
The APEC Labour Market Homepage provides information on labour supply and skill levels organised by economy and by industrial sector.
„h Business disputes:
The APEC Guide to Arbitration and Dispute Resolution covers laws and regulations on private-private and private-government business disputes.


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