APEC Calls for Conclusion of ITA Expansion Talks by mid-2013

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Trade ministers from APEC’s 21 economies descended on the sprawling city of Surabaya in East Java this weekend in their annual discussions to promote trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.  Though progress was achieved on a number of fronts, the tech community especially welcomed the clarion call issued by the ministers to conclude negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) by the middle of this year, and that the outcome should be “commercially significant.”

This was included in the weekend’s Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and WTO 9th Ministerial Conference:


Building on the progress to date, APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade call on ITA participants to swiftly conclude negotiations to expand the product coverage of the WTO ITA by the middle of the year and seek expanded membership of the ITA.  A final ITA expansion outcome should be commercially significant, credible, pragmatic, balanced, and reflective of the dynamic technological developments in the information technology sector over the last 16 years.  Such an outcome would support several APEC objectives, including strengthening the multilateral trading system, promoting connectivity, supporting regional economic integration, and driving economic development throughout APEC economies.


Now accounting for 40 percent the world population, 54 percent of global GDP, and 44 percent world trade, APEC played a critical role in birthing the ITA in the mid-1990s.  It’s only appropriate that APEC is actively engaged in taking the agreement to a whole new level through a significant expansion of products covered by the ITA.

Another round of ITA expansion talks kick off in Geneva on Monday.  The APEC ministers’ supportive words should give the negotiators a good boost and a stronger mandate to get an ambitious outcome by the middle of this year.

Japan and the TPP

Another welcome development from APEC is the joint statement by the current members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.  Japan’s pending entry gets strong play:


Ministers also confirmed that each TPP member has concluded bilateral consultations with Japan regarding Japan's interest in joining the TPP.  Today, Ministers agreed by consensus to finalize with Japan the process for entry in a manner that allows the negotiations to continue expeditiously toward conclusion -- as was done with other members that joined the negotiations in progress.  Japan can then join the TPP negotiations upon completion of current members' respective domestic processes.


In an interview posted today on the Wall Street Journal site, Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis underscored the importance of this progress:


Integrating Japan into the TPP does a number of things. One, it helps to realize the goal of TPP as being a platform for integration in the Asia-Pacific, and having Japan and the size of its economy and population increases the economic significance of the TPP not just to the U.S. but to all the TPP countries. It provides a huge market for exports and for the jobs that are supported by those exports. Bringing Japan in really just increases the economic significance of the TPP.


Japan’s entry in the TPP has epic implications both commercially and strategically.  This endorsement by all 11 members of the TPP represents an important political step forward towards getting Japan into the negotiations expeditiously.

Local Content Requirements and Innovation

Two other useful data points were tucked into the official statement of the 2013 Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade.


We welcome the trade policy dialogue to discuss the economic impact ways to avoid the use of local content requirements in promoting economic growth and employment.  We take note of the initiative to continue discussion among officials aimed at enhancing better understanding of the issues and formulating a way forward.


Local content requirements are looming large on the global economic stage.  They are massively disruptive to the same global supply chains the tech sector so heavily depends on.  It is encouraging APEC’s work in this area is beginning to get traction, including presentations earlier this month by several experts at APEC’s Committee on Trade and Investment.

Finally, the trade ministers gave a decent nod in their official statement to ongoing work in APEC to promote effective innovation policy:


We reaffirm our commitment to promote effective and non-discriminatory innovation policy, including through developing and finalizing implementation practices by October 2013.


This gives a shot in the arm to on-going collaborative work between the tech sector and the U.S. government to lead an effort to convene a APEC conference on trade and innovation in late June in Medan, Indonesia.  ITI has been heavily involved in this work.

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  • Khaldoun Sun., December 22, 2:02 AM
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  • Matheus Fri., December 20, 7:37 PM
    i don't know what im talking about, and this may sound crazy and i would love to know whats atalculy going on so i can make a more informed decision. but what i think is happening is that multinationals cannot influence japanese politics directly because of campaign finance laws banning foreign donations. but the finance ministry is what's pushing for the TPP, right? and the cabinet has to pretty much bow to the bureaucrats because if they don't, the bureaucracy will just decide to stop functioning (like the METI w/ Kan and the touhoku reconstruction\relief? and didn't this happen with hatoyama too?) to frustrate the public with the cabinet till the PM resigns and a new one takes over that will listen or suffer the same fate. i don't know what the finance ministry wants from the TPP (because i don't know what the positives are). i can only see that maybe these multinationals, because they can't influence politics directly, are able to influence the ministries which from what i can tell are unelected and absolutely unaccountable for anything? and if thats what happening is the TPP really going to be a positive for Japan or a positive for the multinational corps who get access to Japan.but like i said i don't really know, and though i might seem like im rambling like a crazy person, i would very much like to know what the other side of this is, what the TPP might offer and eventually what is the real truth of the matter. i am not stubborn that i have chose a side i stick to in spite of the truth. http://npjhkici.com [url=http://aykdnsgb.com]aykdnsgb[/url] [link=http://zbzxziwzoid.com]zbzxziwzoid[/link]
  • Harry Wed., December 18, 3:49 PM
    Within the US, there is absolutely no ienrtest in making the switch. I have just been invited to update some construction-based software I produced some years ago for a large US trade association in Chicago. As one of the updates, I suggested producing a metric version, which would have been easy for me to do, as I produced an equivalent UK metric edition at the same time as the original US version.I was politely informed that there is absolutely no demand at all now for metric measurements in the US there perhaps was 10 or 15 years ago, when metric procurement seemed like it was going to take off. But today that, I am told, is all but dead, and the private sector (at least in the construction industry) has no ienrtest whatsoever in converting to SI.The ienrtesting thing is, is that after having not worked in imperial units for some years now, I am finding it takes about 50% longer (or more) to do the calculations in imperial units compared to working in metric units. And I was brought up on (and worked for many years in) these imperial units, so it's not like I am working in something that I have no familiarity with.One thing that I did notice was that prices in the US for nearly all construction related activities have sky-rocketed over the last ten years, compared with UK (and even compared with Canadian) prices. I wonder how much of that is due to the lost time in working with such a cumbersome and illogical set of measurement units?If America wants to make this TPP work for them, they are going to have to get more competitive and that means not wasting all that (hidden) time in working in obsolete measurement units. Else the agreement will not benefit the US at all.
  • Agnieszka Tue., December 17, 1:41 AM
    am not implying the US and UK are at equal levles of metrication. You are further along. I am implying a similar lack of will to finish the task. Canada also has a problem finishing the task; they see a lot of USC on packaged goods, but they also sell a lot of random weight meat and produce in pounds and inspectors do nothing.I have never travelled to Australia or New Zealand, but I think they are so metric that they ignore the USC in entertainment. Certainly their road signs and beer are metric. I am unaware of any resistance to metric there; I think the public has simply come to believe metric is better.As to lack of will, what else can you say about the UK. Imperial is mandated by law for certain things (most road signs, draft beer, and milk in returnable bottles) and the metric system is actually illegal marking for these purposes. That is a lack of will to metricate fully. We have a conceptually similar lack of commitment and are further behind; the exact details are different (draft beer could be metric but bottled beer mustn't be, random weight packages must be sold in pounds, and the Feds want metric road signs but the States won't agree, the reverse of the UK and local councils)I am sure we are a terrible influence on Canada given proximity. Given more successful metrication in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, I'm not sure we hold much of the blame for the UK's problems in metrication. Some, I'm sure, but you have a lot of internal resistance and your government lacks will to finish the task. I think anti-EU feelings may be a bigger factor, and the UK public is quick to blame metrication on the EU instead of the entire rest of world
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