Services Trade a Focus of APEC

Thursday, June 25, 2015

By Cassandra Oaten

Exporting knowledge and services are key areas of growth for economies who have lost competitiveness in traditional sectors such as manufacturing. For many APEC economies, exporting services will be growth opportunity to use existing competitive advantages. ABAC, the business arm of APEC, shares APEC’s commitment to a ‘new services agenda’ to drive this potential growth.

This ‘new services agenda’ builds on previously completed work by ABAC such as the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business’s 2012 report on Trade in Services in the APEC Region on identifying and quantifying the most significant barriers and impediments to trade in services.

Professional services are an industry that contribute a large amount of value to the global economy but whose use as an export is very low in comparison to the growth it creates in domestic markets. APEC will continue to encourage competition in the services sector by targeting behind-the-border regulatory reform and liberalizing cross-border trade in services. APEC has a ‘Group of Services’ (GOS) who has an active agenda, working on projects to generate growth and increased employment and trade in service sectors.

Identifying the impediments to growth of the services industries in the region requires access to reliable and comprehensive data. APEC has been working to identify the impediments to the growth of service industries through using data and existing indexes such as the APEC Services Trade Access Requirements Database and the OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index.

The Philippines, under their APEC Chairmanship, and as a key services based economy in their own right are to hold a Regional Conference of Services Coalitions and Services Industries, the first of its kind, in Cebu in September 2015. This conference, which will be attended by Ministers, will enable discussion surrounding cooperation to reduce barriers and improve the environment for regional trade in services, finding ways to maximize the full potential of the services sector.