Dodwell in CTI Meetings at Singapore - Post 1

March 28, 2012

The contrast with the Moscow APEC Senior Officials meeting in February could not be starker: from 25-30 degrees below zero, to a sweltering 25-30 degrees above; from the tight, dark streets around the Moskva River to the green and humid open spaces around the Sands Casino resort on land reclaimed along Singapore’s sheltered coastline; from Moscow’s Crowne Plaza, the “grand dame” of western hotels in the former soviet capital, to the vast unused spaces of the spanking-new Sands Expo and Convention Centre. The scale of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment cluster (CTI2) is also noticeably more modest than the full Senior Officials Meeting in Moscow – a mere 7 committees or working groups meeting, compared with the 30-or-more in February.

For the APEC Business Advisory Council, the meeting has nevertheless begun with a bang: a Market Access Group (MAG) workshop on “Remanufactured Goods”, stolidly being championed by Caterpillar folks, and a full day in the Investment Experts Group (IEG) focused on how to improve foreign investment flows. This included a half-day workshop led by ABAC on how to grow investment in the region and promote infrastructure. Attached is a copy of the powerpoint we gave to set the scene for the workshop, and to elaborate: why ABAC is so keen to drive investment liberalization, what we have been doing, and what we recommend for the future. The workshop also gave us opportunity to underscore the work the Seattle-based NCAPEC has been doing on behalf of regional businesses in the “Investing for Growth” Report, and in the report on Regulatory Coherence, both of which were initially tabled in APEC in Moscow two months ago.

From the normal agenda of the Investment Experts Group, a couple of interesting initiatives have been attracting attention: an Indonesian proposal to develop the Public-Private Dialogue on Investment into a regular annual event with heavy ABAC involvement, starting in 2013 when Indonesia is APEC host; and a Russian proposal for us to consider a regional “Ombudsman” to deal with the complaints of investors whose projects have gone sour. Methinks both of these ideas will deserve some detailed attention at the year’s second ABAC meeting in Kuala Lumpur in May. From all of this, the APEC message is clear: our Governments are keen to intensify private sector (for which read ABAC) involvement in policy development on foreign investment.

The biggest headache for the region’s business community is that APEC is seeking responses from ABAC on these and other issues at the upcoming Kazan APEC Senior Officials’ cluster in May. Not only do our ABAC members have no opportunity formally to discuss their suggestions before Kazan, but it looks like the IEG3 meeting in Kazan is actually scheduled to be held while ABAC is meeting in Kuala Lumpur for ABAC2. We did our best to warn officials that they could not expect any firm responses in time for Kazan, while at the same time making encouraging noises about ABAC interest in the proposals.

David gave a presentation to the IEG on behalf of ABAC

The fuel that keeps the meetings going – coffee


The Sands Expo and Convention Centre – home for the next 10 days for APEC’s Committee on Trade and Investment cluster of meetings


* Read Dodwell's blog posts from CTI Meetings at Singapore


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