APEC needs action agenda, says Miller
FIRM action must be on the agenda this year if the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) is to map out the route to free trade in the region, according to the Hong Kong Director-General of Trade, Tony Miller.
The move towards open borders was made during the Bogor declaration in November last year, when APEC leaders agreed that they would liberalise trade by 2020.
Japan is expected to propose setting out a long, short and medium-term plan to achieve free trade in the region during the ministerial meeting in Osaka in November.
Mr Miller said that it was necessary to take steps to fill in the details on how to achieve free trade and not just to have a vague outline of liberalising trade.
He said that the free trade goal of 2020 spanned a long time and Japan's proposal for a short and medium-term plan for achieving free trade was a good one.
He said that achieving free trade would comprise trade liberalisation, trade facilitation, bring down barriers, the alignment of standards and customs procedures and economic and development co-operation.
Mr Miller has just returned from the recently-concluded APEC senior officials meeting which was held in Fukuoka, Japan.
According to Mr Miller, Hong Kong along with New Zealand and Chile encouraged other APEC members to go along with trade liberalisation during the recent meeting.
'The response we received from fellow members was positive,' he said.
During the meeting in Fukuoka, discussions were held on standards and conformance, customs harmonisation, trade facilitation and other issues.
The organisation is encouraging greater alignment of members' standards with international standards.