Dodwell in SOM3 Medan - Post 10

July 05, 2013

In freezing Moscow in March last year, APEC launched a grand experiment in private sector-public sector collaboration. The aim was to bring business thinking – and discipline – to the APEC table more effectively than in the past. The new-born infant was the “Policy Partnership” – specifically the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS).

15 months later, we have three policy partnerships, including the Policy Partnership on Science Technology and Innovation (PPSTI) and the Policy Partnership on Women in the Economy (PPWE). I would not be surprised if new “PPs” are being fledged.

Instead of celebrating this grand new idea, there is instead trepidation. Last week in Medan, there were barely four or five private sector representatives at the Food Policy meeting, out of a total cohort of over 60. At the PPSTI meeting there were just two –the private sector Principle advisor, who is one of the four-member governing council of the PPSTI, and a venture capitalist from the Philippines.

This faltering has triggered deep concern in ABAC, which has vested a great deal in the PP initiative. It has also attracted keen concern among senior APEC officials.

There are always going to be problems in getting top-level business involvement in such APEC meetings. Dates are set at too short notice for the diaries of busy globe-trotting executives. Government officials around the table are often not of the seniority to excite their attention. Agendas are sprawling and unfocused. And meetings held in remote places like Medan are unattractive destinations for executives who have to optimize their diary time.

And there are more principled problems too: officials who prepare their national positions carefully on each agenda item feel constantly nervous at executives who present their own corporate views, rather than seek to distill a broader and more generic business view from the region. We in business compounded this problem because we don’t meet together to debate robust business positions on the key issues of the year. The business representative to the four person “Management Council” has no opportunity to bring his or her business representatives together to be able to reflect businesses’ distilled views.

We in ABAC need to remedy these problems urgently if the PP initiative is not to deflate embarrassingly into disuse or irrelevance from a business point of view. Initial discussions are now underway in ABAC and among officials in Medan. In short, our PPs need to be tweaked, and the sooner the better.

⇒  More blog posts from the SOM3 Medan meetings series.

⇒  Dodwell's other meetings blogs.


[ Back ]