Guest Post: Getting down to business in Lima

by | Nov 11, 2016 | Trade Working Blog

Guest post from Katherine Rich
CEO of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council and a member of the APEC Business Advisory Council

free-thinkingThe US election has raised the stakes of meetings in Lima, Peru, next week when business leaders will get a rare opportunity to sit down with the leaders of APEC’s 21 economies incuding our own Prime Minister John Key.

The agenda will focus on ways to grow economies and living standards, address food security and sustainablity and – yes, especially now – to boost trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

Next week I will be joining fellow members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) including Kiwi colleagues Tony Nowell and Stephen Jacobi, for our last meeting of the year which incorporates both the APEC CEO Summit and our annual dialogue with Leaders.    I will have the opportunity for a smaller-group session with Presidents Xi Jin Ping of China and Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Tony with Russian President Putin of Russia and PM Trudeau of Canada, and Stephen with PM Abe of Japan and Philippine President Duterte.

These discussions are exciting, but now more important than ever. The Asia-Pacific region is central for our prosperity and prospects: it takes over half our exports, encompasses more than 3 billion people, and 60 percent of the world’s GDP.

While the APEC region is an economic powerhouse, globally trade and economic growth are faltering. Our key messages will include the importance of addressing public anxiety over globalisation alongside promoting trade, investment and closer regional economic integration. What’s next after TPP is bound to be a discussion pursued vigorously in both the meeting and corridors.We will also talk about enhancing food security and food trade around the region, and helping small and medium sized businesses.

During our separate ABAC meeting, we will focus on non-tariff barriers (NTBs): I will be leading a further discussion about a set of cross-cutting NTB principles, to try to avoid these measures acting as a handbrake on trade (including of course for our New Zealand exporters). We will also hear a report-back on ABAC research into NTBs in food trade, to which many New Zealand food stakeholders generously contributed.

Other topics of interest include structural economic reform, particularly in the services sector; the benefits of a region-wide approach to global data standards to enhance supply-chain connectivity, security and integrity; a report-back on APEC’s “Food Security Week” as well as broader contributions on trade issues including the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

APEC meetings are sometimes labelled as a talk-fest. They are more than that but at a time when we stand on the edge of a very difficult future for trade this talk is definitely not just business as usual.

 

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