Trade liberalization requires e-APEC, ministers say

Fuller implementation of electronic commerce between members is necessary to drive open trade and economic cooperation, according to ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group.

In a statement issued Thursday at the Fourteenth APEC Ministerial Meeting and the Tenth APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, the ministers reaffirmed that APEC was committed to implementing an e-APEC strategy focused on three main areas:

• creating an open economic environment where market forces and regulations encourage the widespread use of technology

• government policies which promote technology development and infrastructure investment, including online transaction laws, continuing work on electronic authentication and signatures, the promotion of information security, personal data protection and consumer trust

• to create a skilled workforce and promote entrepreneurship, a quality critical to ICT (information and communications technology) development.

Particularly important in boosting investment and cutting trade costs is a paperless trading system, the ministers said. Fourteen of the member economies have submitted individual action plans for paperless trading already, according to the statement.

The ministers also said that promoting the digital economy in APEC, pursuing innovations, and addressing the digital divide comprised one of the group’s four key projects this year. APEC is continuing with an initiative known as Transforming the Digital Divide into Digital Opportunities. APEC ministers also said that it was important for members to implement e-government schemes to enhance the quality and transparency of government services.

APEC brings together 21 states and territories that border the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.

The meeting continues through Sunday.