Dodwell in SOM 2 Meetings at Kazan - Post 2

May 27, 2012

ABAC members Mr Anthony Nightingale and Mr Tony Nowell speak at PECC

The weekend in Kazan was devoted to supply chains and services liberalization, with workshops organized by the Group on Services that offered us rich opportunities to further ABAC’s agenda for the liberalization of services. ABAC members Anthony Nightingale from Hong Kong and Tony Nowell from New Zealand spoke jointly on “The Governance of Services” at a Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) on Saturday.

This was followed on Sunday by a Trade Policy Dialogue orchestrated by APEC Singapore on Facilitating Global Supply Chains – an excellent opportunity for Tony Nowell to recount ABAC’s efforts over the past two years on identifying choke points in the supply chain, and to outline the work being done this year by the Marshall School research team from the University of Southern California on chokepoints in services supply chains. The Workshop included excellent  presentations both from business and from public bodies like the WTO, Jetro and the OECD. Our sense at the end of the day was that while there is a long way to go, ABAC’s efforts to get officials to pay more policy attention to liberalizing trade and investment in services are beginning to bear some fruit.

The weekend Workshops also enabled our ABAC members to reiterate the key recommendations of last year’s “Understanding Services at the heart of a Competitive Economy” report which was championed by ABAC Hong Kong. Of the three recommendations in the “Understanding Services” study, the call for improved data collection on services seems to have strong APEC backing: lots of practical work is now underway, in particularly in the OECD and the WTO, to make the value of services more transparent.

But our other two recommendations have got less traction. The call for APEC members to press for the launch of a dedicated services round, perhaps building on the “Really Good Friends of Services” initiative launched by a number of WTO members in January in Geneva, was always going to face resistance. A number of our member economies have yet to be convinced that there would be net benefits from separating services negotiations from the negotiations on goods and farm trade.

But the reluctance to take up ABAC’s call for creation of an “Expert Group on Services” to provide practical policy recommendations on liberalization is a little more disappointing. The good news is that various officials have encouraged us to keep pressing on this initiative. If at first we don’t succeed….. We perhaps need some fresh thinking on how we can best press this initiative forward.


A snapshot of churches in Kazan

* Read Dodwell's other blog posts from Kazan.


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