Dodwell in SOM 2 Meetings at Kazan - Post 3

May 28, 2012

A fresh wave of conference folks swept in on Monday – clearly not the usual APEC people – all headed for the inaugural meeting on food security – the Policy Partnership on Food Security that ABAC has fought for more than a decade to create. No sooner had they arrived than they swept away, to visit a massive Tatarstan dairy herd. For me, one dairy herd looks very like another, and as a non-meat-eater I don’t feel keenly motivated to spend a day with a bunch of Russian cows, so I gave the field trip a miss, and instead knuckled down to a very productive Investment Experts Group.

ABAC Members Tony Nowell and Anna Buduls visiting Russian cows on a Kazan farm – never say ABAC Members are unwilling to get their feet dirty!

Apart from providing the group with a comprehensive report back from our Kuala Lumpur meeting, there was a solid review of the IFAP – the Investment Facilitation Action Plan – which is also very close to ABAC’s heart. We were able to reiterate our support for this programme, and for the need for metrics that measure progress on the various plans. So it was gratifying to learn that the Policy Support Unit is planning an audit that should be ready by the end of the year.

Our Russian hosts tabled an early-stage proposal to foster more investment in Innovation and the High Tech sector. After all of our work last year on revision of the Non-Binding Investment Principles, where we argued strongly for emphasis on leveling the playing field, I think we would on balance prefer to see broad-based liberalization of investment regimes rather than programmes for liberalization targeted at particular preferred sectors. But the Russian proposal received strong in-principle support from a large number of members, so we opted to maintain a diplomatic silence: perhaps foreign investment liberalization around high-tech can provide a template and precedent that can facilitate broader-based investment liberalization over time.

Indonesia, who will host APEC in 2013, is proposing to hold an IEG Public Private Workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and this again received broad-based support from a large group of members. Clearly the business community would be keen to participate, but a broader and more generic title – like “The Role of Business in the Community” might be preferable, since many in business feel the concept of “CSR” is perceived as something of a cliché, and is regarded as applicable only to large companies. By opting for a more generic title, IEG would be more likely to engage smaller companies that would more likely see the theme of the Workshop as relevant.

* Read Dodwell's other blog post from Kazan.

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