Dodwell in iSOM Jakarta - Post 1

December 05, 2012

Setting the Scene for iSOM APEC Indonesia 2013

Handing over the Chairmanship from Russia to Indonesia

This week the curtain falls on a Russian year of APEC Chairmanship. Senior officials gather in Jakarta on Thursday and Friday to pass the baton to Indonesia, review achievements of the past year, and to debate Indonesia’s thoughts on priorities for 2013. No offence to our Russian friends, but it will be nice to exchange the refrigerated charms of Moscow and St Petersburg for the familiar steamy sprawl of Jakarta.

Because the Vladivostok APEC Leaders’ meeting fell so early this year, in deference to Siberia’s gripping winters, we have had an unusual pause in activity. But inevitably, the region’s challenges have not gone away, and in certain respects they have deepened: the threat of global recession remains as acute as ever, as does the danger of backsliding into protection. Since the Vladivostok meetings, conflicts over islands in the South China Sea have tested strong regional relationships, and elections in the US, China and (next week) Japan throw political uncertainties into the mix. But those APEC members involved in ASEAN have had positive meetings in recent weeks, so it is our hope and expectation that the collegial and collaborative mood that characterizes APEC activity holds firm.

ABAC has had more engagement in the run up to this week’s iSOM – the “informal” Senior Officials meeting that sets the agenda and priorities for each new APEC year – than I ever recall. Both Tony Nowell as chair of our Regional Economic Integration Working Group, and Anthony Nightingale as chair of the Action Plan and Advocacy Working Group, have made visits to Jakarta in recent weeks, meeting with Indonesia’s APEC officials and sharing thoughts with ABAC Chair Wishnu Wardhana, the ABAC Executive Director for 2013, Amin Subekti, and other members of the Indonesian ABAC team.

They have been able to discuss a number of ABAC priorities – for example, supply chain connectivity and global data standards, services and foreign investment liberalization, food security, and the new “Public Policy” initiatives on food security, innovation, and capital market development that bring officials and private sector representatives together to contribute jointly to policy development. They have also been able to learn directly from Pak Thamrin, Indonesia’s Senior APEC Official, the priorities they plan to take into 2013. These include a review of progress on the Bogor Goals, sustainable marine development under the banner of the “Blue Economy” and inclusive growth.

Also, as the 10 year moratorium on new APEC members has expired, Indonesia will apparently also be pressing for new countries to be invited to participate as observers. India and Brazil have been mentioned.

Over a free-flowing policy symposium on Thursday, and the more detailed discussion of 2013 agenda priorities on Friday, we expect to emerge with clarity over how ABAC and the business community can most effectively contribute to policy development in the year ahead. Remarkably, we have a total of 19 ABAC Members and Staffers registered to participate – which must surely be a record.

I will be sending blogs on the issues that arise at the end of Thursday’s and Friday’s discussion, and then a summary overview at the weekend as I return to Hong Kong. Hopefully this will help business to prepare as effectively as possible for ABAC1 in Manila in January, and enable a strong business contribution as APEC Senior Officials meet for their first substantial cluster of policy meetings in Jakarta at the end of January.


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