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Speech: L Smith - How APEC Will Deliver

Embargoed Until Delivery

An Address by

Hon. Lockwood Smith PhD
Minister for International Trade

How APEC Will Deliver To
Sinclair Knight Merz

Carlton Hotel

1800 hours
7 September 1999

Thanks for your invitation to be here tonight to celebrate your merger.

Before I delve into all the jargon and diplomat-speak of APEC, it's great to have this opportunity to be sharply reminded of what it's all about - making life easier for the region's businesses to grow and create more jobs.

Most people probably associate with APEC with disruption to everyday life and work here in Auckland.

And then they might mention tariff reduction.

What APEC is actually about is improving the prosperity of all the people in the region.

And our strategy to do that is to improve the environment for business - to strengthen markets.

One of the ways we do that is by cutting tariffs for exporters of goods, because tariffs hardly create a good environment for regional business.

But our work goes much further, and it is directly relevant to this merged consultancy.

APEC is working regionally and at the WTO to get rid of tariffs and build free trade in sectors of particular interest to you - environmental goods and services, energy, gems, forest products.

The more business we can encourage in those sectors the better that is for you.

We're working to align standards, with electrical and electronic product standards being a major focus this week.

Over time, that work will expand to cover more and more different kinds of standards.

It means that when you're advising a client in one APEC economy on how to meet, say, construction standards, you'll be working off the same template as for another client in another APEC economy the previous week.

A smaller but valuable programme is the APEC Travel Card scheme, which can provide you and your staff with visa free travel to participating economies, and fast track processing on arrival. We expect to launch this in New Zealand within the next couple of weeks.

The benefits of all these types of initiatives add up.

APEC businesspeople have advised that, with different rules and regulations, the average international transaction involves between 27 and 30 parties.

You need 40 documents, 200 data elements and you have to re-type 60 to 70% of all your data at least once.

APEC will slowly cut those numbers down.

We're also working to improve the economic infrastructure in various economies, and this should be of direct benefit to you.

Two sectors of major interest to APEC, in which you're particularly well placed, are electricity and transport.

APEC doesn't move in and build dams, airports or roads, but we will be encouraging greater competition in these sectors.

That will lead to greater investment in services that are essential for other economic activity

None of this is going to happen as fast as you or I would like.

Diplomacy is slow.

You no doubt still find it frustrating dealing with the New Zealand bureaucracy.

Multiply that 21 times - for each APEC economy - and you'll have an idea of the frustration I feel that I can't deliver to you through APEC as fast as I'd like.

But we are getting there.

Each year, we take further steps towards our ultimate goal:

One market throughout the Pacific Rim - with a third of the world's population, half of world production and half of world trade.

A market with zero tariffs, aligned standards, harmonised customs procedures, and strong economic infrastructure.

With this merger and with your strong reputation, you're well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities that will deliver.

Best wishes for the new consultancy.

You have a great future ahead of you.


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