Dodwell in 2013 SOM1 Jakarta - Post 9

February 05, 2013

Monday saw us bright and bushytailed to kick off the day’s CTI agenda with the services presentation – which was pretty much a rerun of the presentation given two days earlier at the Group on Services. Again this seemed to go down well, with high interest in ABAC’s 2013 agenda – the decision to focus the Marshall School this year on obstacles to foreign investment, our continuing call for an “experts group” to drive the services liberalization agenda, the priority need to understand the implications of the new OECD-WTO work on global trade balances as reflected once you break down where value is actually added – and perhaps most important, our interest in holding a Public Private Dialogue during SOM2 in Surubaya. There seems to be keen interest in the Dialogue, with calls for us now to come up with the over the coming few days.

As soon as I finished the services presentation, I rushed back along tunnels to the Marriot to attend the SCE-COW (I love that name) workshop on Oceans-related issues – part of Indonesia’s interest in raising the profile of the “Blue Economy”. An array of fascinating presentations from outside parties like the Nature Conservancy, the ADB, and the International Maritime Organisation, covered issues ranging from fishing to shipping to the coral triangle, to marine-based tourism and even a Russian presentation on wave power. Fascinating stuff, and highly relevant to the work of the Policy Partnership on Food Security.

At lunch, we were charging back along tunnels to the Ritz where ABAC was still waiting to present on Global Data Standards. Having sat waiting since Sunday we eventually came to present at 3.30 on Monday. The presentation attracted broad buy-in on how the consistent regional application of global data standards brought large and measurable benefits. Officials nevertheless would not buy in to our call for a dedicated Task Force to drive this initiative forward. Perhaps correctly, they argued that APEC already has several Working Groups tasked to work in this area, and they preferred for us to feed into these groups, rather than create a new one. Perhaps our response should be to create an ABAC Taskforce similar to the Asia Pacific Infrastructure Partnership, and make its expertise available to drive discussion in the various concerned APEC Working Groups – rather as APIP’s Task Force members make themselves available to brief governments on attracting infrastructure investment.

Overall, an exhausting but very productive day – but it was not until the very end that the most fascinating development occurred. One of our senior Chinese APEC officials took me aside to note that China was in the process of shaping priorities for APEC 2014 – a process Beijing hoped would be more or less complete by June – so the business sector has a narrow window in which to input views on the agenda.

By the time you get this, I will be on my way back to Hong Kong, leaving our ABAC Chair Pak Wishnu, and Anthony Nightingale from ABAC Hong Kong to pace us through the critical SOM discussions. For me, I have been away from home for too long, and I will be pleased to be home ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Happy New Year of the Snake everyone.


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