Dodwell in SOM1 Moscow - Post 11

February 19, 2012

I’m back in Hong Kong, after a very challenging Cathay Pacific flight from Moscow jam packed with robustly festive Russians and a floundering in-flight entertainment system. Mercifully, most of the Russian passengers, fortified with Cathay whisky, rum, brandy, whatever, had iPads and iPhones and other electronic devices to turn to for entertainment. Made me wonder whether in the future, airlines should continue to spend all the money they do on in-flight entertainment systems: just loan passengers an iPad on embarkation, loaded with the latest hot films, and leave it up to them!

Focus on my return to Hong Kong is now very much on the ABAC meetings, which start on Tuesday with a big SME Summit on Entrepreneurship, and then shift into the three days of formal ABAC meetings. A high point will be the meeting between ABAC members and Senior APEC Officials, most of them flying in directly from Moscow. This dialogue with Senior officials happens just once a year, and is significant both for Senior Officials to brief the region’s business leaders on APEC priorities for the year ahead, and for the opportunity it provides for ABAC members to drive home our own business priorities for the year.

There will inevitably be much discussion based on the SOM just finished in Moscow. I raced away to Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Saturday morning with the full SOM still in progress, shortly after our ABAC Chair, Ziyavudin Magomedov, presented ABAC’s 2012 work plan to Senior Officials. He made a perfectly workman-like presentation hampered only by the fact that ABAC has yet to meet this year, and so has not yet finalized its 2012 workplan.

It would be nice to think that our ABAC priorities have been well cemented in APEC officials’ minds over the course of the past two weeks of the SOM, but that would be optimistic, methinks. Most attention has been poured on sensitive discussion on a list of Environmental Goods, and on the substance underpinning the food security agenda. Much time was also quite rightly spend on Government capacity building – an absolute imperative for APEC officials, but hardly something for ABAC to get excited about.

Wednesday’s meeting with Senior Officials is clearly going to be important. With most Senior Officials flying in directly from Moscow, they will be keen to elaborate thoughts on the 2012 agenda and challenges as debated in the Moscow refrigerator. It will be important for us in ABAC to keep our own agenda priorities firmly on the agenda.

Personally, apart from being pleasantly relieved to be back in civilized temperatures, I will be keen to see the foundations for the PPFS firmly founded. I will also be keen to see our Services Liberalisation agenda given some serious attention.  An important week ahead...

* Read Dodwell's latest post from SOM1 Moscow

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