Dodwell in iSOM Jakarta - Post 2

December 06, 2012


Yuri Thamrin speaks about APEC 2013 key priorities at the meeting

ASEAN, Indonesia can naturally look to melding some of the initiatives that have proven successful in ASEAN with development plans for the wider APEC region. Equally unsurprising was the priority being given to sustainable and inclusive growth: Indonesia shares rising international concern about how much of the “growth” of the past two decades has benefited a tiny proportion of the region’s population, widening the rich-poor divide in virtually every economy in the region.

But a number of thoughts on priorities for the year ahead were less predictable, and more novel:

  • Thamrin suggested that the “free and open trade and investment” targeted by the Bogor Goals was important but not enough: the Bali Blueprint for 2030 would “re-frame APEC’s vision” and focus on integration, drawing on initiatives at the heart of ASEAN’s Economic Community, which is supposed to be complete by 2015, and would address “behind-the-border” liberalization, regulatory reform and market contestability.

  • Urgent priority should be given to improved physical connectivity, with strong emphasis on partnering the private sector on funding for critical infrastructure (has anyone talked to him about APIP, by the way?)

  • ABAC’s proposed Asia Pacific Financial Forum should be used to drive regulatory reform in the financial markets, and deepening the region’s capital markets – sweet support indeed for the ABAC initiative nurtured through to APEC Finance Ministers in Moscow last August.

  • APEC should invite non-APEC members to join in discussing the region’s development agenda – which might include economies like India, Myanmar and Brazil.

  • Sustainable development of the “blue economy”, flagged at meetings in Kazan this summer, is also to be given priority, with a detailed presentation on the concept from the Asian Development Bank yesterday. Did you know that up to 20% of the GDP of Indonesia and Vietnam can be attributed to their marine economy? How APEC steers around this issue without becoming entangled in angry regional disputes over barren and remote rocks in the South China Sea has yet to be seen.

A briefing on APEC’s work on Supply-Chain Connectivity Network

Yesterday’s symposium spanned Indonesia’s three broad priorities – the Bogor Goals, sustainable and inclusive growth, and connectivity – and in broad terms brought solid support from officials. From ABAC, both Anindya Bakrie and Steven Lee made well-received panel presentations.

My sense at the end of the day was that Indonesia had, from a standing start two months ago, made massive progress in shaping a balanced but creative and challenging menu of initiatives for the year ahead. It was perhaps only Indonesia – as “owner” of the Bogor Goals – that could task APEC to lift its eyes towards the 2030 horizon, and to plunge into the largely uncharted terrain of behind-the-border liberalization.

For ABAC, Indonesia seems to have espoused some of our most cherished concerns. There were perhaps just two areas where silence was regrettable: first, and most important, there was silence on services liberalization. We will need to work hard to remedy this indifference. Second, there was no explicit concern over the faltering launch of our cherished “Public-Private” initiatives – the PPFS on Food Security and the PPSTI on innovation. If APEC officials are serious in wanting to draw business leaders into the detail of policy-making discussion in such areas, then much work still needs to be done to get the institutional arrangements right. Having put so much effort into creating the PPFS, ABAC should not allow this initiative to flounder. And if the PPFS is to be regarded as a template for future private sector-public sector collaboration on policy-making, then APEC officials must share our concern to get the institution right. Perhaps these are issues that may be tackled at iSOM tomorrow.


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