APEC China 2014 commences in Ningbo
Ningbo, China, 22 Feb 2014 - The curtain has risen on APEC China 2014 in the eastern port city of Ningbo where member economies are gathered to strengthen regional integration and trade flows needed to capture greater consumption-based growth.
Building support for comprehensive, high quality trade agreements, and the next steps towards realizing APEC economies’ goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP, are among the issues that Senior Officials and technical specialists will seek to take forward here through the coming week.
This is in line with the framework and priorities of cooperation within APEC during China’s year as host economy. They include “Advancing Regional Economic Integration,” “Promoting Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth” and “Strengthening Comprehensive Connectivity and Infrastructure Development.”
“Experience over the last 25 years has shown to the world the progress APEC economies can achieve when we bring our markets closer together,” said Li Baodong, Vice Foreign Minister of China and Chair of APEC Senior Officials in 2014. “It’s essential that we break new ground to keep growth headed in the right direction and jointly tackle the economic and social challenges of development.”
“Part of the equation is building our capacity to ensure the kind of access businesses need to better trade and invest in each other’s markets,” Vice Minister Li explained. “It’s also figuring out how advancements in the regional architecture, which cooperation within APEC has been instrumental in delivering, can position us to achieve our long-term objectives like an FTAAP.”
APEC Senior Officials will meet on 27-28 February, after a cluster of APEC working group meetings now underway in Ningbo to address the technical aspects of trade development and greater economic integration. This weekend, Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Singapore conclude as well.
“The future of growth rests, to a large extent, on freer markets and lower barriers at and behind-the-border as demand for goods and services in the Asia-Pacific rises,” said Dr Alan Bollard, the APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director. “APEC economies are leading efforts to address “next generation” trade issues that a future FTAAP could contain and which are starting to catch hold within the WTO as we saw with the Bali Package and its parallel focus on customs simplification.”
“The collaboration taking place in Ningbo is critical to ensuring that APEC economies successfully implement their commitments to reduce tariffs on a list of environmental goods, build the reliability of supply chains and improve the ease of doing business in the region by next year,” Dr Bollard added. “Following through will provide an additional boost to the global trading system and support our pursuit of more ambitious measures to achieve higher quality growth.”
APEC economies are furthermore moving ahead with the formulation of a blueprint for enhancing seamless connectivity in the region and implementation of a complementary multi-year plan on infrastructure development and investment that was endorsed by APEC Leaders in Bali. Work to establish a new Public-Private Partnership Center, to be based in Indonesia, is a component of this initiative and will help to strengthen the infrastructure financing landscape.
APEC Finance Deputies explored the issue of sustainable financial resources for connectivity and infrastructure development recently in Bo’ao, China and laid the foundation for action.
Other points of emphasis include improving mobility in the region through the expansion and improvement of the APEC Business Travel Card program by immigration, customs and security authorities. Education officials are also positioning member economies to raise the number of intra-APEC university level students per year to one million by 2020, a target that was introduced last year and would represent an estimated 25 percent jump.