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APEC Leaders' Statement on Transparency Standards

Text: APEC Leaders' Statement on Transparency Standards (Include prompt publishing and availability of laws, regulations)

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have agreed to adopt and implement new standards on transparency in order to promote economic growth, as well as fair and effective government.

In a statement issued at the close of their October 26-27 meetings in Los Cabos, Mexico, APEC leaders said these new standards would include the prompt publication and availability (via the Internet or other means) of laws and regulations.

It is a "basic principle," they noted, that "trade liberalization and facilitation ... is in large part only meaningful to the extent that the members of the public know what laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings affect their interests, can participate in their development, can participate in administrative proceedings applying to them and can request review of their application under domestic law."

Following is the text of the APEC leaders' statement on transparency standards:

(begin text)

LEADERS' STATEMENT TO IMPLEMENT APEC TRANSPARENCY STANDARDS
Los Cabos, Mexico 27 October 2002

We, the Economic Leaders of APEC, reaffirm the commitment made last year in the Shanghai Accord to pursue implementation of APEC's transparency principles. In so doing, we observe that transparency:

-- is an important element in promoting economic growth and financial stability at the domestic and international levels;

-- is conducive to fairer and more effective governance and improves public confidence in government;

-- is a General Principle in the Osaka Action Agenda which requires its application to the entire APEC liberalization and facilitation process;

-- is a basic principle underlying trade liberalization and facilitation, where the removal of barriers to trade is in large part only meaningful to the extent that the members of the public know what laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings affect their interests, can participate in their development, can participate in administrative proceedings applying them and can request review of their application under domestic law;

-- in monetary, financial and fiscal policies, and in the dissemination of macroeconomic policy data ensures the accountability and integrity of central banks and financial agencies, and provides the public with needed economic, financial and capital markets data; and

-- will be enhanced through well-targeted, demand-driven capacity building to assist developing economies make progress toward greater openness.

Accordingly, we are committed to implementing the following transparency standards, taking into account the General Principles in the Osaka Action Agenda. We recognize that implementation of these standards will be an important APEC-led contribution to achieving a successful outcome for the WTO Doha Development Agenda.

Transparency in Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation

General Principles

1. (a) Each Economy will ensure that its laws, regulations, and progressively, procedures and administrative rulings of general application respecting matters in Section C of Part One of the Osaka Action Agenda are promptly published or otherwise made available, for example via the Internet, in such a manner as to enable interested persons and other Economies to become acquainted with them.

(b) Each Economy will have or designate an official journal or journals and publish any measures referred to in paragraph 1 in such journals. Each Economy will publish such journals on a regular basis and make copies of them readily available to the public.

(c) An Economy may comply with subparagraph (a) by publication on the Internet.

(d) Each Economy will promote observance of the provisions of this paragraph by the regional and local governments and authorities within its customs territory.

2. When possible, each Economy will:

(a) publish in advance any measure referred to in paragraph 1 that it proposes to adopt; and

(b) provide where applicable interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures.

3. Upon request from an interested person or another Economy, an Economy will endeavor to promptly provide information and respond to questions pertaining to any actual or proposed measure referred to in paragraph 1.

4. Each Economy will ensure in its administrative proceedings applying any measure referred to in paragraph 1 that:

(a) wherever possible, persons of another Economy that are directly affected by a proceeding are provided reasonable notice, in accordance with domestic procedures, when a proceeding is initiated, including a description of the nature of the proceeding, a statement of the legal authority under which the proceeding is initiated and a general description of any issues in controversy;

(b) such persons are afforded a reasonable opportunity to present facts and arguments in support of their positions prior to any final administrative action, when time, the nature of the proceeding and the public interest permit; and

(c) its procedures are in accordance with domestic law.

5. Where warranted, each Economy will ensure that appropriate domestic procedures are in place to enable prompt review and correction of final administrative actions, other than those taken for sensitive prudential reasons, regarding matters covered by these Standards, that:

(a) provide for tribunals or panels that are impartial and independent of any office or authority entrusted with administrative enforcement and have no substantial interest in the outcome of the matter;

(b) provide parties to any proceeding with a reasonable opportunity to present their respective positions;

(c) provide parties to any proceeding with a decision based on the evidence and submissions of record or, where required by domestic law, the record compiled by the administrative authority; and

(d) ensure, subject to appeal or further review under domestic law, that such decisions are implemented by, and govern the practice of, the offices or authorities regarding the administrative action at issue.

6. For purposes of these Standards, administrative ruling of general application means an administrative ruling or interpretation that applies to all persons and fact situations that fall generally within its ambit and that establishes a norm of conduct but does not include: (a) a determination or ruling made in an administrative or quasi-judicial proceeding that applies to a particular person, good or service of another Economy in a specific case; or (b) a ruling that adjudicates with respect to a particular act or practice.

Specific Principles

7. Consistent with the above Standards, Economies will follow the transparency provisions contained in the following documents:

(a) APEC Group on Services Menu of Options for Voluntary Liberalization, Facilitation and Promotion of Economic and Technical Cooperation in Services Trade and Investment;

(b) APEC Investment Experts Group Options for Investment Liberalization and Business Facilitation to Strengthen the APEC Economies-For Voluntary Inclusion in Individual Action Plans;

(c) APEC Government Procurement Experts Group Non-Binding Principles on Government Procurement;

(d) APEC Principles to Enhance Competition and Regulatory Reform;

(e) APEC Sub-Committee on Standard and Conformance objective to ensure transparency according to the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and the SCSC 1994 Declaration of an APEC Standards and Conformance Framework and 1998 Terms of Reference; and

(f) APEC Principles on Trade Facilitation.

8. (a) APEC sub-fora that have elaborated the above transparency provisions should review these regularly and, where appropriate, improve, revise or expand them further.

(b) APEC sub-fora that have not developed specific transparency provisions should do so.

(c) APEC Sub-fora that develop such new or revised transparency provisions should present them to Leaders upon completion for incorporation into this Statement.

Transparency in Monetary, Financial and Fiscal Policies and the Dissemination of Macroeconomic Policy Data

9. Prior to our agreement in the Shanghai Accord to implement APEC transparency principles, we agreed in Brunei Darussalam in 2000 to support the key standards identified by the Financial Stability Forum. Three of these key standards focus on transparency:

(a) Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies: Declaration of Principles;

(b) Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency; and

(c) General and Special Data Dissemination Standards.

10. Following APEC Finance Ministers' decision to support the assessment of Economies' implementation of these transparency codes through the IMF led Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs), Economies are encouraged to participate fully in the ROSC program. As voluntary disclosure of ROSC modules promotes transparency, Economies should, where practicable, disclose the results of these assessments.

Confidential Information

11. The provisions of this Statement will not require any Economy to disclose confidential information where such disclosure would impede law enforcement, the enactment of laws, or otherwise be contrary to the public interest or would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular persons or enterprises.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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