2012 APEC Ministerial Meeting (Overview and Evaluation)
September 6, 2012
On September 5 and 6 the APEC Ministerial Meeting was held in Vladivostok, the Russian Federation under the chairmanship of Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Andrey Belousov, Minister of Economic Development, Russia. Foreign and Trade Ministers from the 21 member economies participated in the meeting (Japan was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano).
The following is an overview of discussions:
1. Main Issues:
- (1) Regarding the APEC list of environmental goods, active discussions were conducted among the Ministers. Japan urged on all APEC member economies to jointly work together to reach a consensus on a list that contribute to green growth in the Asia-Pacific region since the liberalization of trade in environmental goods would provide win-win situations benefiting all member economies. As a result, the Ministers recommended their Leaders to endorse the list of 54 products agreed at the ministerial level.
- (2) Regarding food security, Japan called on the APEC member economies to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade, including bans and other export restrictions on the export of agricultural products in the face of continuing global food price volatility. The Ministers reached agreement on this point, which was reflected in the Joint Statement.
- (3) In response to rising protectionist measures, the Ministers reaffirmed their standstill commitment through the end of 2015 to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade and their commitment to rollback existing protectionist measures and exercise maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be considered to be consistent with WTO provisions but have a significant protectionist effect. The Ministers also agreed to work in earnest in order to swiftly achieve a good outcome of negotiations to expand the product coverage and membership of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
- (4) Regarding promotion of innovation, Japan emphasized that a free and open environment for trade and investment, including protection of intellectual property rights and a non-discriminatory business environment, was necessary to promote innovation in the APEC region and this was reflected in the Joint Statement.
2．Discussions on Each Agenda Item
- (1) Strengthening Food Security
Moving forward to increase agricultural production and productivity, to facilitate trade and to develop food markets, the Ministers discussed the importance of utilizing private investment, information sharing and technology transfer. Japan encouraged the APEC member economies to uphold the “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI)” which aims to harmonize and maximize the benefits of all stakeholders, including contract farmers, local communities and investors, and to the “Asia-Pacific Food Security Information Platform” (APIP) designed to ensure the transparency of agricultural markets. Other member economies expressed support for this.
- (2) Emergency Preparedness
The Ministers discussed the need for coordination and cooperation among crisis management centers, prompt information sharing, smooth assistance receiving and strengthening cooperation with private aid organizations. Japan shared with other economies the outcomes of the “World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku” held in July 2012 in the Tohoku region.
- (3) WTO DDA Prospects and Supporting the Multilateral Trading System
Mr. Victor Khristenko, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, reported on progress in economic integration, and Mr. Rufus Yerxa, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, reported on the current situation of the WTO DDA negotiations. Japan asserted that APEC economies should not weaken their commitment against protectionism made at previous meetings such as the Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) held in Kazan, aiming for early conclusion of negotiations to expand the product coverage and membership of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and welcoming Russia’s accession to the WTO. Other Ministers made similar remarks.
- (4) Trade and Investment liberalization and Regional Economic Integration
In addition to the liberalization of trade in environmental goods, the Ministers discussed the “transparency for FTAs” (rules to be provided in FTAs such as the publication of laws and the fair administrative proceedings) as one of the next-generation trade and investment issues to be included in FTAAP. The Ministers agreed on An APEC model chapter on Transparency for RTAs and FTAs as the outcome of the meeting.
- (5) Establishing Reliable Supply Chains
The Ministers discussed steps to enhance the efficiency and reliability of supply chains in the region and further promotion of work to reduce time and cost required in moving goods and services through the region (the Supply Chain Connectivity Framework Action Plan). Japan asserted the need to advance the work further including promoting the supply chain visibility in order to improve the efficiency and reliability of supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region which is vulnerable to natural disasters.
- (6) Fostering Innovative Growth
Moving forward to promote innovation in the APEC region, the Ministers agreed to establish an organization, the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), to discuss fostering innovation among government, business and academia along with its detailed terms of reference. They discussed among others the development of higher education cooperation within the region and concrete actions to increase women’s economic participation and empowerment across the APEC region. Japan asserted that it is crucial for promoting innovation in the Asia-Pacific region to protect intellectual property rights, to create a non-discriminatory business environment, to foster trust-building in the region and to promote participation of various actors including women, the youth and the elderly.