APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Services launches business stakeholder consultations on a new cooperation framework on services
Stakeholders in services trade from across the Pacific Rim region are set to engage in a series of dialogues in 2015 with the aim of shaping a new Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agenda on services trade cooperation that would better support increased competitiveness, value addition, and job creation.
The dialogue process, organized by the International Trade Centre in cooperation with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and APEC senior officials, kicked off with a senior official-level public-private dialogue on 3 February 2015 in Clark Freezone Port, the Philippines.
In the opening session of the Dialogue, Jane Drake-Brockman, an ITC services expert, drew attention to new findings from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce highlighting the importance of services exports in generating domestic value-added and jobs.
‘With knowledge-intensive activities playing an increasing role in all member economies, services have shifted from low productivity non-traded activities to high productivity, highly traded activities, with out losing any of their human capital intensity’, Drake-Brockman said. ‘2015 is the year for APEC to set out the steps it will take to deliver impactful progress on services. Because services businesses, large and small, are looking for improvements in connectivity and inclusiveness on every level.’
When measured in value-added terms, services represent 39% of APEC trade – double the figures traditionally cited in balance of payments data. Business stakeholders in the region are consequently asking policymakers for twice the attention the sector received in the past .
Rajesh Aggarwal, ITC’s chief of business and trade facilitation, said ‘Even for the smallest SMEs, new technologies have changed the way services providers need to think and operate if they are to be competitive, access global and regional value chains and climb the value-added chains. It makes good sense that this first public-private dialogue for 2015 puts focus on information technology and business process management, creative industries and research and development’. In addition to the new dialogue process, which seeks to build support for a proposed regional services cooperation framework, ITC is supporting the Philippine Services Coalition to organize a meeting of Asia-Pacific services industry champions in August 2015, and push for the launch of a region-wide services coalition. Coalitions of services firms and associations play a key role in helping policymakers understand the complex policy and regulatory challenges associated with building efficient services sectors, which are in turn crucial for business competitiveness in producing goods as well as services.