Dodwell in 2013 SOM1 Jakarta - Post 8

February 04, 2013

It was Sunday and all normal people were at rest – including our local ABAC team. That left us travelling sherpas traipsing back and forth along the underground tunnel that links the Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels to hold the fort through the first day of an absolutely huge CTI agenda.

I had initially expected to present on the Marshall School report and services after lunch. But as the clock pushed relentlessly towards 6.30, we were asked by John Larkin, the ethereally unflappable CTI chair, if we would be willing to delay through until the beginning of day 2. So we spent the day listening to a dizzyingly diverse range of presentations – from an excellent PSU presentation on SMEs in Global Supply Chains, to audacious Indonesian efforts to have palm oil included into APEC’s list of environmental goods. You can imagine what kind of response that drew. It always impresses me how diplomats can say “No Way” so very politely and obliquely. We had our Australian colleagues pressing for a Trade Policy Dialogue on Fisheries subsidies, and a US presentation on Local Content subsidies. Perhaps the most intriguing was a US call for study of “used electronics” – though for diplomatic reasons, the title of their proposal was altered to “Electronics Stewardship” – as if “used electronics” was a dirty word.

From our point of view, the PSU report on the challenges SMEs face in linking in to global supply chains was really valuable and I believe our SME working group should consider including a presentation in its ABAC2 agenda in Singapore. After all, the PSU is based in Singapore, so they should relish the idea of coming over to our meetings at the Marina Bay Sands for an afternoon. This presentation gave us a chance to emphasise the value of a liberal foreign investment environment, and the importance of liberalized services as the “lubricant” oiling these global supply chains. It allowed us to outline the stuff ABAC is doing in support of SMEs – in particular micro-finance, and ABAC China’s project to use internet platforms to help SMEs get access to international business opportunities. We also praised the STAR database on how services professionals can learn how they go about building a presence in overseas markets. Perhaps most valuably, since a senior Indonesian official raised concerns that many small companies were worried about foreign companies, it provided opportunity to argue that, on the contrary, local companies forced to use expensive and inefficient services found it impossible to compete outside their own markets.


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