October 22 - 23, 1995
APEC Business Congress: APB-Net II
- The APEC Business Congress: APB-Net II was held on October 22 - 23, in Osaka, Japan, hosted by the Japanese business community. The meeting was held following the accord at the first APB-Net (Asia Pacific Business Network) meeting in August, 1994, in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The APEC Business Congress: APB-Net II was attended by 81 businesspersons representing 40 business organizations of 14 economies in the APEC region, namely, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States of America and Japan, plus 2 regional organizations, CACCI and PECC, and 2 observers from Russia.
- Representatives of the Pacific Business Forum also participated in the meeting. Conference participants appreciated detailed explanations of the PBF report by PBF members, and expressed general support of the policy recommendations by the PBF. Participants agreed that business organizations would continue to cooperate with the PBF and its proposed permanent business advisory body (APEC Business Council), as a way of transmitting business interests to the APEC process. Participants requested that APB-Net be appropriately represented on the advisory body if it is created by the APEC Leaders.
- Recognizing the fact that economic development in the Asia-Pacific region has been driven by private/business sector activities based on the market mechanism, participants at the APEC Business Congress: APB-Net II urged leaders and ministers in the APEC economies to facilitate business activities by further liberalizing trade and investment. Participants, therefore, wished for the successful outcome of the APEC Osaka Meeting.
The following is the business sector's basic stance agreed on at the APEC Business Congress:
- In order to realize the vision of the APEC Bogor Declaration, a comprehensive and concrete action agenda should be adopted at the APEC Osaka Meeting. The agenda should cover measures in trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation and development cooperation over the next 15 - 25 years.
- It is critical that APEC continues to operate consistently within the principles of the World Trade Organization so as to strengthen the multilateral trade framework. Any measures regarding liberalization in the APEC region should apply unconditionally and non-discriminately to APEC member economies as well as non-APEC members based on the principle of "open regionalism."
- Any liberalization programs must accommodate the tremendous diversity in cultural background and levels of economic development among the APEC economies. However, it is important to focus on final achievement by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies and to maintain the principle of comprehensiveness.
- Industrialized economies of the APEC region must take the initiative in liberalization by opening up their own markets so as to encourage other member economies' efforts.
- Governments in all APEC economies must take measures to smooth cross-border business operations. Those measures should include heightening transparency in government regulations, simplifying customs procedures, unifying tariff codes, easing restrictions on obtaining business visas, harmonizing standards and certificates guidelines, protecting intellectual property and establishing a framework for settling disputes.
- Developing economies have inadequate industrial infrastructure. All APEC economies need to better coordinate their programs related to the region-wide infrastructure. Human resources are APEC's most valuable and creative asset. Thus, it is vitally important to implement programs on human resources development recommended by the PBF. Efforts should focus on entrepreneurship, leadership, business and managerial skills, trade, linguistic skills and understanding different cultures, business practices and legal requirements. In order to reflect the ideas on industrial infrastructure and human resources development of the private/business sector, which engages in carrying out development programs, there should be greater cooperation between private/business sector representatives and government officials.
- The increasing role and importance of women in APEC business activities must be recognized and encouraged in order to develop the full potential of the APEC economies.
- While small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in economic activities in the APEC region, many SMEs do not have adequate human resources, business information and access to financial sources. Policy guidelines for promoting SMEs should be implemented in each economy. The APEC region-wide cooperative scheme concerning technical assistance to SMEs should be promoted among APEC economies.
- Environmental measures are assuming increasing importance in the Asia-Pacific region. Intra-region environmental technology exchange utilizing global telecommunication infrastructure should be promoted in view of the importance of environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Networking activities, which include business matching conventions, electronic data-base sharing and communication among business organizations, are a vital tool integral to the success of all businesses (both multinational corporations and SMEs) in accessing information, enhancing performance and expanding markets. Networking, in particular, is a means by which SMEs can overcome many disadvantages they face compared to MNCs. Networking also contributes to mutual understanding among peoples in the APEC region where diversity of culture and business practices is observed.
The APB-Net, therefore, seeks to provide a medium for business interests from APEC member economies across large, medium or small enterprises to meet and build business-to-business networks. Participants agreed that business organizations, which represent SMEs and large corporations, should play a pivotal role in achieving the objectives of the APB-Net.
The APB-Net is to operate as a network, not an institution, with an emphasis on individual enterprises as participants and business associations as facilitators working through a cooperative framework. Strengthening linkage among business organizations in the APEC region through regular conferences and electronic communication devices, such as the facsimile, E-mail and the Internet, is the first step in furthering networking activities.
- While the APB-Net principally deals with the promotion of networking within the business sector, participants agreed that cross-sectoral networking also facilitates economic transactions among APEC economies.
- Participants commended efforts of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for organizing the APEC Opportunity Convention, held in September, 1995, in Adelaide in conjunction with the APEC SME Ministers' Meeting. The event involved the integration of three major elements: a business networking/matching program, a business forum and a business exhibition. Business representatives at the event also had a chance to exchange views with ministers participating in the APEC SME Ministers' Meeting. It is expected that similar APB-Net activities will take place in the future.
- The next APB-Net meeting will be held in the Philippines in 1996 prior to the APEC Ministerial and Leaders' Meetings. Preparatory meetings for the APB-Net meeting will take place, if necessary.
- All conference participants were encouraged to communicate policies and actions emerging from the meeting to their individual government leaders and ministers.
Organizers: Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations)
Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Kansai Economic Federation
Supporters: Nikkeiren (Japan Federation of Employers' Associations)
Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives)
Japan Foreign Trade Council, Inc.
Kansai Host Council for Osaka APEC Meetings
The Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Kansai Keizai Doyukai (Kansai Association of Corporate Executives)
The Osaka Industrial Association
Kansai Employers' Association
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