APEC Finance Ministers' Forum -- Role and Work Programme

By Mortlock, Geof | The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, December 2000 | Go to article overview

APEC Finance Ministers' Forum -- Role and Work Programme


Mortlock, Geof, The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin


Over much of 1999/00, New Zealand co-chaired the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers' forum, as part of its overall chairing of APEC during 1999. This article describes the objectives and role of the APEC Finance Ministers' process and explains its interaction with other international forums. The article also summarises the main outputs produced by APEC Finance Ministers, placing these in the broader context of other international initiatives currently under way.

Introduction

New Zealand chaired the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum during 1999. As part of that process, New Zealand also assumed the chair of the APEC Finance Ministers' process -- that part of APEC that deals with macroeconomic and financial issues and is overseen by Finance Ministers. In an arrangement designed to align the timing and chairing of the Finance Ministers' forum with that for APEC as a whole, New Zealand co-chaired the Finance Ministers' process with Brunei Darussalam from the middle of 1999 through to September 2000 when this year's annual Finance Ministers' meeting was held.

Although the international trade aspects of APEC have a relatively high public profile, the Finance Ministers' process is less well understood. This article discusses the origins and objectives of the Finance Ministers' process and summarises the main initiatives currently on the agenda, placing these in the wider context of the global financial reforms currently under way. Before doing this, however, the article outlines the origins of APEC itself and its structure and objectives. [1]

Background -- origins, objectives and structure of APEC

APEC was formed in 1989, principally as a forum within which Asian and Pacific Rim economies could advance their collective economic welfare and promote greater cooperation in the region.

Currently there are 21 member economies within APEC. [2] The membership of APEC is diverse, comprising economies in various stages of economic development, with a wide range of political and cultural characteristics and varied economic and financial structures. At times the diversity in the membership of APEC can pose challenges in reaching consensus on policy issues. However, it also provides the opportunity for sharing a rich and broad range of perspectives and experiences, with the potential to enhance the quality of international debate and deepen the understanding of policy-makers.

APEC began life as a forum for Trade and Foreign Ministers and their officials, focusing principally on regional economic and international trade issues, with a particular emphasis on trade facilitation. However, in 1993 APEC was broadened by holding the first of the annual meetings of the Leaders of APEC economies. In their first meeting, Leaders articulated a shared vision for APEC of achieving stability, security and prosperity for the peoples of the region. In that context, they pledged to find cooperative solutions to the challenges of a rapidly evolving regional and global economy and to continue to reduce impediments to trade in goods, services and investments among the APEC economies.

In support of this goal, APEC Leaders adopted what became known as the "Bogor Declaration" in 1994, under which they agreed that member economies would eliminate all remaining international trade and investment barriers by 2010 in the case of developed member economies and 2020 in the case of developing economies. This has become the principal strategic goal of AFEC and underpins many of the initiatives within it, particularly on the trade side of the forum. The Bogor Declaration is supported by the Osaka Action Agenda. It sets out the three pillars of APEC's trade agenda: trade and investment facilitation; trade and investment liberalisation; and technical cooperation. The Osaka Action Agenda sets out agreed principles for action by APEC economies in 15 policy areas, including tariffs, non-tariff trade barriers, customs procedures, and regulatory standards. …

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