Build APEC-wide services coalitions to improve policymaking, business competitiveness, urges new report

6 November 2014
ITC News

Better cooperation among services-focused business organizations, both domestically and across the Asia-Pacific region, would make for smarter policymaking and improved business competitiveness. This was the key message of a new Indonesian Services Dialogue report submitted to a 5-8 November APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Beijing ahead of the APEC Leaders’ Summit.

The report, undertaken with ITC support, maps existing services business organizations in APEC’s 21 member economies, and calls for building whole-of-services business organisations in economies where they are not yet present. The report recommends developing regional mechanisms to encourage information sharing and cooperation among services business groupings in the region. It also makes the case for launching an APEC-wide meeting of these organizations in 2015, with a view to creating a regional services coalition.

Calculations based on value-added trade data indicate that services industries are far more important to all economies than is generally recognized, and are increasingly driving competitiveness across all sectors.

Building efficient services sectors requires policy and regulatory reforms across a complex array of areas. In many countries, coalitions of services firms and associations play a key role in helping policymakers understand these challenges, identifying obstacles to industry growth and trade and providing a consultative group through which to engage with government in overcoming such challenges. World Bank research suggests that the existence of services business organizations contributes to countries’ international competitiveness in services.

This is why ITC provides support and capacity building to business organizations focused on services, while also encouraging them to reflect perspectives from a wide range of services stakeholders, including consumers and researchers.

In developing countries, services business organizations can help firms, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), tackle challenges with regard to skills shortages, broadband connections and services quality assurance.