As tariffs have declined in the APEC region, attention has gradually shifted to the structural and regulatory obstacles that inhibit cross-border trade and investment and that create behind-the-border barriers to doing business.
The Economic Committee (EC) works to remove these obstacles by promoting structural reform within APEC. Structural reform are improvements made to institutional frameworks, regulations and government policies so that the efficient functioning of markets is supported, and behind-the-border barriers are reduced. Such work is expected to generate significant benefits and remains relevant for many current economic policy debates, including the issues related to the prospects of avoiding the middle-income trap.
In 2004, APEC Leaders endorsed an ambitious work program called the Leaders' Agenda to Implement Structural Reform (LAISR). The agenda covers five areas for structural policy reform: regulatory reform, competition policy, public sector governance, corporate governance, and strengthening economic and legal infrastructure.
Building on the work in these five areas, APEC's structural reform agenda was expanded beyond the LAISR's priority areas through the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR) initiative, launched in 2010. In 2015, APEC Ministers endorsed a Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR), which will guide APEC’s work on structural reform until 2020.
The RAASR aims for a robust, comprehensive and ambitious structural reform agenda to reduce inequality and stimulate growth in APEC economies, and contribute to APEC’s overarching goal to promote balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth, through measures in line with the following three pillars:
- More open, well-functioning, transparent and competitive markets;
- Deeper participation in those markets by all segments of society, including MSMEs, women, youth, older workers and people with disabilities;
- Sustainable social policies that promote the above-mentioned objectives, enhance economic resiliency, and are well-targeted, effective and non‑discriminatory.
The EC was established in 1994 and meets twice a year. The EC also works closely with other relevant APEC fora including the Competition Policy and Law Group, the Committee on Trade and Investment, Finance Ministers’ Process and Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy.
Last page update: September 2019
The EC supports APEC priorities by working on the implementation of the five-year Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR) mandate, endorsed by the Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) held in Cebu, Philippines, in September 2015. In August 2018, the High-Level Structural Reform Officials’ Meeting produced 10 Structural Reform Priorities and Gaps to Fill as a list of potential activities for the EC to focus on until 2020.
The latest meeting of the EC took place in Puerto Varas, Chile on 26–27 August 2019 (meeting summary). The important achievement of the meeting was the adoption of the APEC Collaborative Framework for Online Dispute Resolution of Cross-Border Business-to-Business Disputes. The pilot project based on this document will promote quick electronic resolution of disputes across borders and help small and medium enterprises integrate in the global supply chain.
In 2019, the EC also held the Workshop on Online Dispute Resolution, Workshop on the Digital Economy: Measurement, Regulation and Inclusion, Workshop on Promoting Competition Assessment for Improved Market Efficiency in Viet Nam, the APEC Gender and Structural Reform Workshop: Improving the Environment for Women in the Workplace and the Best Practices Workshop on Public Investment Systems.
The EC’s annual economic policy reports can be found here. Currently, the EC is working on the APEC Economic Policy Report on Structural Reform and the Digital Economy, which will be produced in time APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2019.
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Since 2004, APEC’s structural reform agenda has made a strong contribution to efforts to reduce behind-the-border barriers and promote balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth in the region. The agenda is fleshed out through the Leaders’ Agenda to Implement Structural Reform (LAISR) as well as the subsequent APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform (ANSSR) and Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR).
Dr James Ding
Mr Pavel BRONNIKOV