Dodwell in 2013 SOM2 Surabaya - Post 6

April 12, 2013


Friday’s Group on Services meeting was as rich as the early Market Access Group had been barren. Apart from an eccentric and untypical bureaucratic eruption by our US officials blocking progress on an initiative to facilitate cross border education services, the meeting was popping with fresh and interesting initiatives. Quite why the US got itself into such a tangle on education services remained unclear right through the weekend, as blocking and tackling continued into the CTI agenda, but it was unusual and bemusing to see virtually every other APEC member give the US a bad time.

Australia talked of progress on the STAR Database, which provides easy-to-use access to rules and regulations on services providers who want to deliver their services in other APEC economies. There is talk now of a promotional video to help in presenting about the database to business. There are also proposals to expand to include Health, Environmental, and Construction services. This initiative might not quite rank up there with the APEC Business Travel Card, but it is without doubt one of APEC’s more valuable initiatives for business.

There was then a boistrous discussion on the previous day’s workshop on Retailing Services. As I listened, I only wished the organizers of the retailing workshop had collaborated with the organizers of the Food Safety workshops being held over at the Marriott, such was the overlap. A common theme was that SMEs routinely get squeezed. In the Retailing workshop the focus was on their difficulties in building the critical mass to be able to get into international markets. In the Food Safety workshop, it was how compliance with often-onerous food safety regulations imposed a huge and disproportionate burden on SMEs. Did you know that when Poland introduced European Union Food Safety Standards as a pre-condition for EU Membership, they lost 90% of their food companies – almost all of them the smaller companies. And for the 1,000 or so that survived, the costs of compliance amounted to many hundreds of millions of dollars.

There were then two interesting discussions, on plans for a workshop on Logistics Services (no date yet set) and the second from Japan on Supply Chain Enabling Services.

And then of course there was my presentation on ABAC’s behalf on our Services Agenda – including a plug for our SOM Public-Private Dialogue on Services on Wednesday and the Services Dialogue being organized by ABAC Indonesia on Friday.

* Read post from Surabaya


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