Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Yesterday, President Trump concluded the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Da Nang, Viet Nam – his penultimate stop on the longest Asia tour for a U.S. President in decades.  With the United States no longer a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or a member of the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – and with other multilateral groupings reducing or limiting interaction with the private sector – APEC has emerged as the leading Asia-Pacific trade liberalizing platform for businesses to engage with 21 governments that collectively comprise 3 billion consumers and close to 60 percent of global GDP.

Indeed, APEC has established a series of public-private mechanisms to address critical business challenges including:

  • Reducing barriers to digital tradeAPEC economies developed a framework for facilitating cross-border e-commerce and increased participation in the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system increasing consumer trust and privacy protections and facilitating digital trade.
  • Removing regulatory barriers to biopharmaceutical exports: APEC is driving regulatory convergence to international standards and guidelines, including through training delivered by a network of APEC Regulatory Science Centers of Excellence (CoE) launched this year.
  • Eliminating non-tariff barriers: APEC’s public-private initiative on food safety is streamlining non-tariff barriers in the food and agriculture sector such as unnecessary and non-science based export certificates.
  • Leveling the playing field for medical technology and biopharmaceutical exporters:  APEC’s ethical business practices initiative is developing the world’s first guidance to eliminate unethical practices for third party intermediaries, such as distributors, and has expanded high-standard ethical principles across the Asia Pacific to more than 19,000 enterprises.
  • Expanding trade in chemicals and chemical products: APEC is engaging governments and industry to align customs procedures with regards to environmental certifications and develop alternative solutions to product bans and taxes.

The APEC Ministerial statement may be found here.

The APEC Leaders statement may be found here.

Planning is already underway for the 2018 APEC host year with the Informal Senior Officials Meeting to take place December 5 – 6.  Companies that engage have the ability to work alongside governments to help shape the policy and regulatory environment for Asia-Pacific.  The alternative is to sit on the sidelines as other governments bend the curve of commercial engagement in their favor.

C&M International, led by former Deputy USTR Ambassador Robert Holleyman, is recognized as a leader in facilitating private sector engagement in APEC and helping companies develop strategic partnerships and initiatives to address challenges and support business goals.

The 11 remaining countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership (the TPP11) are hoping to announce progress on a path forward to proceed without the United States on November 11 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.

TPP11 trade ministers met November 8-9 to attempt to reach consensus, with Japan taking an active coordinating role. Trade officials from the TPP11 met in Urayasu, Japan, the week of October 31 to discuss specific rules and commitments to “suspend” from the agreement given the lack of U.S. participation and have reportedly exchanged proposals to suspend rules in many areas, including on intellectual property, investor-state dispute settlement, labor and the environment, as well as in several market access areas. It is likely that many of the commitments insisted on by the United States during the negotiations are among those under discussion for suspension. Any rule suspensions could be accompanied by mechanisms to reactivate the rules if and when the United States eventually rejoins the agreement.

Though the United States is not a party to the agreement, multinational companies with investments in the remaining TPP11 countries could still see benefits from TPP’s commitments on digital trade, regulatory cooperation, state-owned enterprises, and intellectual property should the agreement be implemented, though much will depend on which provisions make it into the ultimate agreement. An announcement by the TPP11 later this week on the margins of the APEC Leaders Meeting may therefore have commercially meaningful impacts for companies.

For more information, contact: Robert Holleyman, Evan Yu