APEC Policy Researchers Offer Strategies to Accelerate Economic Integration
Contributed by the APEC Secretariat
Boracay, the Philippines, 13 May 2015 – Leading academics and policy makers recommended strategies for APEC to accelerate regional economic integration and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific at a two-day APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference in Boracay, ahead of the APEC Second Senior Officials’ and Trade Ministers’ meetings.
The annual conference offers an opportunity for policy researchers from over 50 APEC Study Centers, universities and think tanks to share their analyses on how APEC can achieve its key 2015 priorities, including increasing services trade in the region and realizing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), as well as bolstering small and medium enterprises and investing in human capital development.
“The APEC Study Centers and their academic researchers throughout the Asia-Pacific play an important role in analyzing key APEC issues in order to assist APEC officials formulate effective policies,” said Dr Erlinda Medalla, Vice-chair of APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 and Project Director of the Philippine APEC Study Center Network.
At the conference, researchers shared their recommendations on APEC’s policy priorities in 2015. In order to accelerate economic integration, experts proposed ways APEC can play a critical role in reducing trade barriers for services and help increase the flow of services across borders.
“One of the main obstacles for governments to liberalize trade in services is the fact that creating more open services trade across borders requires implementing domestic regulatory reforms,” explained Dr Robert Scollay, Associate Professor and Director of the New Zealand APEC Study Center. “Governments are cautious about changes to domestic regulations due to the uncertainty of the impact of such reforms.”
“In order to achieve progress and reduce the uncertainty on the effects of regulatory reforms, APEC can play an important role as incubator in services liberalization through knowledge sharing of best practices and bringing key stakeholders together to address how these regulatory reforms can be implemented with optimal outcomes,” recommended Scollay.
Value-added services such as research and development or brand marketing are increasingly a critical component of manufacturing competitiveness in the regional economy. However, the ability of business services such as accounting or advertising to be offered across borders is affected by local laws that govern labor mobility or foreign ownership.
Policy researchers also evaluated possible pathways to realize the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Economists provided novel data analyses of the dynamics of exports and global value chains in the Asia-Pacific region that will help inform APEC policymakers moving forward. Strategies to enhance small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was also discussed at the conference including ways to improve SME access to finance and disaster resilience.