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Remarks to Public Private Dialogue on Renewable Energy

by | Jan 20, 2021 | Trade In The News

APEC BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL18 JANUARY 2021, MALCOLM JOHNS, ABAC NZ

PUBLIC PRIVATE DIALOGUE ON PROPOSED APEC FRAMEWORK FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

Thanks for the opportunity to offer some concluding remarks for today’s dialogue.

Let me start by acknowledging all our speakers and participants from the audience who have offered some great insights and by expressing our thanks to Craig Emerson for his expert guidance of our discussion.

It is gratifying that this event has drawn interest from a wide range of participants from public and private sectors from multiple economies.  We’re of course grateful to our ABAC colleagues for joining us and it’s particularly good to welcome a number of people who may not have had much connection with ABAC before.

ABAC is in the business of ideas.  We try to think big thoughts and recommend them to governments.  We rely on events like this to help us further conceptualise our thinking and turn it into something that is both workable and able to be recommended to APEC Leaders, Ministers and senior officials.

In this case we are at the beginning of the journey.  I think it fair to say from today’s discussion that there is a consensus on the central proposition – that a future APEC Framework for trade and investment in renewable energy could promote and assist the transition to more sustainable energy and help build a low carbon future in the Asia Pacific region.

Having said that, the devil is likely to be in the detail, and there are number of hurdles to be overcome.  We heard earlier about the barriers that exist at both production and consumption levels and that would serve to inhibit cross border trade in renewables.  Eliminating non-tariff barriers, achieving greater regulatory coherence and appropriate standards, certification and quality assurance all have a role to play.

We heard that strengthening access to investment, finance and insurance would be key both for expanding production capacity and trade.  And that developing renewable projects  could assist directly to enhancing energy security in remote regions and developing economies.  I am thinking certainly of parts of Asia and Latin America but also regions in New Zealand and Australia and the Pacific Islands here.

Lastly, we talked about the options already on the table to achieve some of this including APEC’s Environmental Goods List and the opportunity to add renewable energy technologies and especially services, the latter being a key interest of the New Zealand Government in its year of chairing APEC.

An APEC Framework cannot be built in the day. In terms of next steps, I am delighted that ABAC Japan and ABAC Australia have undertaken to champion this issue as part of our work programme for this year.  A Task Force is to be formed within ABAC’s Sustainability Working Group to develop further the value proposition and turn this concept into a workable recommendation to APEC.  We envisage several virtual meetings of the Task Force being held over the course of the year to come up with wording to be placed in ABAC’s Report to APEC Economic Leaders.

We will want to keep in touch with all of you as the proposal is developed and there may well be scope to reconvene this group at a later date.  Thereafter we will need to work together to lobby our respective national governments to pay attention to the recommendation and to build the consensus amongst APEC economies required to adopt the Framework at a future meeting of APEC Economic Leaders.

We in ABAC New Zealand will be supporting this work strongly as the initiative fits well into our theme for 2021 of “People, place and prosperity” – people, because energy security is vital for livelihoods; place, because the transition to a more sustainable, low carbon future is directly connected to the ability to develop new forms of energy production and consumption; prosperity because we have the ability to develop new lines of business, trade and investment to support these ambitious goals.

So, may I express thanks to you all once again for your participation today and to Craig and the convenors of today’s discussion for their great leadership and foresight.

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