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APEC - Easing the Burden on Business

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APEC - Easing the Burden on Business
« on: November 21, 2020, 09:00:02 PM »

The Australian Government Minister for Trade Warren Truss has welcomed a new strategy to boost trade, reduce costs to business and which will benefit consumers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meeting in Cairns, APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade have agreed to a new Trade Facilitation Action Plan to reduce trade transactions costs in the Asia-Pacific region by 5 per cent by 2010.

The importance of this work was highlighted in a draft report prepared for APEC by the World Bank, presented in Cairns, which concluded that more transparent and predictable trade regulations for importers and exporters could boost the collective trade performance of APEC economies by nearly $148 billion.

"The measures agreed in this action plan will deliver practical outcomes for business and consumers, who will benefit through more competitive prices", Mr Truss said.

"I am pleased that we have agreed to a collective approach in implementing this work. The benefit to APEC economies is maximised when we all pull in the same direction", said Mr Truss.

Participation by Asia-Pacific business in the development of this new plan has been important in ensuring that activities undertaken are targeted and practical.

Initiatives include the development of 'Customs Single Windows' by APEC economies, the expansion of the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme, harmonisation of food safety standards and work on data privacy to protect the integrity of e-commerce.

"I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the APEC Business Advisory Council in assisting this work. Implementation of the plan will keep APEC at the forefront of international work to reduce trade transaction costs."

Trade Facilitation Action Plan II

TFAPII sets out a framework to streamline electronic customs documentation, improve the online business environment, better harmonise domestic with international standards, and make business travel in the region easer. In addition to identifying a range of individual measures member economies can adopt, the plan also contains an agreed set of collective actions, including:

Customs Single Windows

Customs Single Windows are a service allowing businesses involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents at a single entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements. Its great benefit to business is that information must only be submitted once if in electronic form. APEC member economies have agreed to work towards their implementation across APEC.

Expansion of the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme

The APEC Business Travel Card Scheme currently provides cardholders of 17 member economies with priority immigration and clearance on arrival and departure from international airports. It also provides multiple visitor entry visas to participating economies over a three year period. Expansion of the scheme to cover the US and some other member economies will be an important TFAPII outcome.

Food Safety and Standards Harmonisation

To respond to the health challenges posed by food safety, while at the same time ensuring that solutions do not create unnecessary barriers to trade, APEC member economies will develop a framework to strengthen cooperation in food safety. An important feature of this initiative will be work to better align domestic and international food standards, which will reduce costs to business.

Protecting Data Privacy

Cross border data flows are the currency of the digital economy that fuels growth in the information age. Information technologies offer great benefits for business, individuals and governments including increased consumer choice, market expansion, productivity and product innovation. At the same time, concerns can arise over the control of personal information leading to a lack of consumer confidence in the privacy and security of on-line transactions. To meet this challenge, APEC member economies have agreed to expand their work on implementation frameworks and cross-border privacy rules for accountable cross-border information flows.

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