Dodwell in SOM1 Moscow - Post 8

February 15, 2012

At 30 minutes notice on Tuesday afternoon I was marched down to the Economic Committee (EC), where I was told I was on the Agenda to present on ABAC’s 2012 priorities. Woops. No-one had told me. So I begged time, and appeared on Wednesday morning at 9.30 with powerpoint in hand. Heaven knows whether I covered everything I should cover on ABAC’s behalf, but I did my best. Going forward, the Economic Committee says it wants to hear more from us. As I was briefing the Economic Committee, Hajiro-san from ABAC Japan was briefing the Committee on Trade and Industry (CTI) on ABAC’s 2012 work programme. Interesting how ABAC voices are in demand.

Both the EC agenda and the CTI agenda are gigantic affairs. Documents are compendious – books’-worth of reading, if anyone had the time to be that conscientious. And with so much turf to cover, discussions can be totally sleep-making.  The challenge here is that in the midst of the ponderous, technical detail, some little gems fall out – and it’s hard to make sure you are awake when they drop.

  • Australia is offering to run training workshops around the region on Regulatory Impact Assessments between now and September. This is a gift-horse, and APEC governments would be stupid to look it in the mouth. They ran one of their workshops here in Moscow for about 50 federal and regional officials, and the Russians seemed to be mightily pleased with the “capacity-building” value. If Russians can gain, surely most of us can. I saw lots of Governments signing up.

  • The discussion on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which was originally planned for SOM1 here in Moscow, is now firmly slated for SOM2 in Kazan. Materials need to be prepared. APEC New Zealand officials will be chasing the issue.

  • APEC’s Policy Support Unit (PSU) expects to complete a big project on Supply Chain choke points by June, with a key Workshop in Singapore on March 31. Services choke points will be an important part of the agenda. This issue is set to be a high priority for ABAC in the coming year so we need to plug into this. And talking of choke points in the Services Supply chain, PSU reminded me that the World Bank is close to completing a “Services Restrictiveness Index”, based on data from five services sectors: Financial Services; Telecoms Services; Retail and Distribution Services; Transportation Services; and Professional Services. Surely this is tailor-made for our work on Services Supply Chain chokepoints.

As officials now gird their loins for the final Senior Official meetings on Saturday, they have all disappeared into bilateral negotiation huddles. Outside, the snow and freezing temperatures are keeping us all firmly huddled inside. Our hugely hospitable Russian hosts have been arranging tours most days to Red Square and the Kremlin, and it will be interesting to discover how many venture out this afternoon into the refrigerated blizzards. Isn’t it a blessing that so many of our APEC economies are to be found in balmier climes. I can see many officials wistfully looking forward to Indonesia hosting APEC in 2013 – but let’s not be gloomy, Kazan on the Volga River in May could be beautiful. Match that with Russian hospitality, and it could be a marvelous event.

Snow returned to Moscow with a vengeance on Wednesday, pushing APEC officials deeper into the comparative warmth of bilateral meetings

Snowfall on the riverbank… The deep freeze continues
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