Hong Kong Priorities

During its 20-year life, ABAC has made 127 major recommendations to APEC leaders. Some were big, some were small – but more important, over half of these recommendations were adopted. Not a bad track record for business, methinks – and clear evidence that APEC leaders both listen to, and take note of the advice they have been giving to leaders since ABAC was created in 1995.
 
Hong Kong’s ABAC members continue to punch above their weight in driving business opinion. Priority areas have included: building awareness of the importance of services and services liberalisation; financial system reform in particular since the 2008 global markets crash; and more focused areas like Food Security; Science, Technology and Innovation; Infrastructure-building; Women in the Economy and a large menu of Environmental and sustainability concerns.. 


     

Through 2015, the following issues are being given particular priority:

Services Liberalisation 

Services is at the heart of the success of Hong Kong’s economy. ABAC HK continues to play a key role – through ABAC’s unique advisory role – in raising awareness of the importance of services, and encouraging APEC member economies to promote services liberalisation. 

What we have achieved?    During the 2014 ABAC4 Meeting in Beijing in November, 2014, HKC tabled ABAC’s Services Action Plan, drawing on support  from the International Trade Centre in Geneva. It has proposed an APEC-wide Coalition of Services Organizations, and a meeting to create this will be held in Cebu in the Philippines in August 2015. 

At SOM 1 in February, the APEC Economic Committee (EC) created a Friends-of-the-Chair (FotC)
Group on Strengthening Economic and Legal Infrastructure. APEC HKC will act as the coordinator for this two-year initiative. APEC HKC will first organize an EC workshop in Cebu, the Philippines in September 2015. 

At SOM2 in Boracay the first fruits of an ambitious HKC-inspired study examining the importance of
services in manufacturing supply chains were tabled. More than 30 cases have now been researched, which show that 70+ services go into the average manufacturing supply chain, accounting for 60% and more of the total value of the end-product. A more comprehensive report will be tabled in Cebu in September. 


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ABAC Hong kong has a long history in advancing work in service liberazation.  

In 2011, ABAC members from Hong Kong and the Philippines agreed to “champion” an ABAC initiative to improve awareness of the critical role of services in the region’s economies, and how important services are in creating jobs and economic growth in the future.
A comprehensive service trade study was submitted to APEC, “Services at the Heart of a Competitive Economy (Click to download the report in pdf (3MB)”. The report is the collaborative effort of ABAC members from Hong Kong and the Philippines who “championed” the ABAC initiative to improve awareness of the critical role of services in the region’s economies. The initiative also highlights how important services are in creating jobs and economic growth in the future.

In response to ABAC lobbying on services liberalisation, APEC services-related initiatives have been transformed. For instance, there are projects today on how expensive services harm competitiveness, and on how much of a “manufactured” good is actually a bundle of services. Both China as APEC 2014 chair, and the Philippines as 2015 chair have lifted services liberalisation to be one of their key priorities.

Read more about services liberation in APEC


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Supply chain choke points - Global Data Standards and Connectivity

ABAC HKC is offering advice and research to a regional ABAC research initiative on supply chain choke points, with a particular effort to put a cash cost on each key choke point.

What we have achieved?     In 2014, APEC leaders endorsed the APEC Connectivity Blueprint 2015-2025, which is a strategic guide to strengthen physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity. On people-to-people connectivity, HKC is one of the sponsors of the US initiative on APEC Scholarship and Internship to promote cross-border education and training cooperation. From 2015 onward, Hong Kong offers “APEC scholarships” to granted APEC students. Hong Kong has contributed a total of over 40 scholarship and internship places. 

On Global Data Standards (GDS), ABAC HKC and New Zealand continue to advance work on interoperable standards across the region. One key initiative is a suite of 9 practical pilot projects on product traceability. Seven Member Economies are involved in these cases.


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Infrastructure Investment Development 

Hong Kong has been a great supporter on APEC’s infrastructure initiatives. By the recommendation of ABAC, the Asia Pacific Infrastructure Partnership (APIP) was established in 2010 to bring together high-level offficals, experts and private sector advisors to address the constraints in infrastructure investment. Over 75 private sector experts in structuring and financing long life infrastructure projects make up the APIP Task Force (around 20 of them in Hong Kong) who engage in “full and frank” closed door discussion with APEC finance officials on what is blocking private sector investment in infrastructure in their economies.. 

 

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Asia Pacific  Financial Forum

The Asia Pacific Financial Forum (APFF), was created in 2013 by finance ministers and ABAC as a platform for public-private collaboration to develop robust and integrated financial markets in the region following the global financial markets crash in 2008. 

What we have achieved?     Five tracks of work are being driven by the APFF, focusing on capital market reform, trade finance, insurance and retirement pools, the financial and lending infrastructures. Priority is also being given to small company access to finance, and to the creation of an APEC regional funds passport. Management of disaster risk is also a high priority.

A total of seven “finance track” meetings will be held in 2015, leading to the Finance Ministers meeting in Cebu from September 9-11.


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Supporting SME Development and Women's Empowerment

The challenges facing SMEs are a key priority for ABAC, as well as at the heart of ABAC members’ interests.
 

What we have achieved?     

SMMEs

HK ABAC Members and the Executive Director meet regularly with various SME representative bodies, including from the HKGCC and the British Chamber, to talk about the work APEC/ABAC are doing in this area, and to discover their key concerns.

Malaysia, ASEAN Chair 2015, has invited Hong Kong to attend the ASEAN SME Showcase & Conference in May. A Hong Kong Pavilion, led by the Trade and Industry Department (TID), Trade Development Council (TDC) and InvestHK, will attend the Conference.

In 2014, ABAC endorsed the APFF’s action plans to invite economies to launch pathfinder initatives to help SMEs obtain adequate financing.
In addition, initiatives are being driven to foster innovation in SMEs and to integrate them effectively into global value chains. Fostering SMEs being created by women is also a high priority for this year’s Philippine chair.

Women’s Empowerment

Both ABAC on behalf of the business community, and  APEC in general, have put significant emphasis on the importance of women in business. This has been reflected in various ABAC activities, led by ABAC women members, actively engaging with women professionals in the region.

In 2014, APEC leader launched 5 initiatives to empower women’s participation in economic activities. An expert group has begun work to identify health-related barriers preventing women from active economic participation.
 
Following a major meeting on Women in the Economy held in Papua New Guinea early in May this year, a Women in the Economy Summit is to be held in Manila in mid-September, along with Ministers with responsibility for women’s issues.

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Sustainability - Energy & Food Security

APEC Energy Working Group (EWG) has been working with APEC Committee on Trade and Investment and ABAC on measures to strengthen energy security and sustainable energy development. This initiative was clearly stimulated after the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima in Japan in April 2011.
Food security has been one of ABAC’s key concerns since 1999, and culminated in the creation of the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) in 2011. In 2014, APEC leaders endorsed the APEC Food Security Roadmap toward 2020 and the Action Plan to Enhance Connectivity of APEC Food Standards and Safety Assurance. In Hong Kong, key contributors include Richard Elman, Chairman of Noble Group, Anna Lin, Chief Executive of GSI Hong Kong and Ng Joo Siang, Vice-Chairman and MD of Pacific Andes Group.