Plenary: Asia Pacific Regional Outlook and Concurrent Session: Enabling 21st Century Services in the Asia Pacific
Prepared by Youth delegates Angela Zhang Yiou (HK), Muhan Cheng (CT) and Jihye Seon(KO), 29 September 2011
The First Plenary session was moderated by Mr. Zou Mingrong. The first speaker Roberto Cardarelli delivered the Overview and Forecast of the IMF on global economy. During his speech, Mr. Roberto highlighted that slower growth was expected around the world. However, Asia will still exhibit relatively good performance with strong domestic demand. He also mentioned “Two Channels”: trade channel and financial channel. Mr. Roberto concluded that Asia still would have solid growth but monetary tightening and economic rebalancing are required.
The second speaker Mr. Yuen Pau Woo introduced the State of the Region Report and the Prospects for Transpacific Energy Trade. One of the most unique parts of the report is the “Survey of Opinion Leaders”.
It is an annual survey done by the PECC through its various economy members. For each economy, around 20-30 opinion leaders were selected to complete the survey, representing ideas from business, academia and government. For the energy trade area, transpacific energy trade is comparatively insignificant relative to both global energy trade and energy imports into the Asian region.
The speeches were very informative and we identified a few suggestions listed below.
During the General Meeting, we discovered that most of the speakers held an optimistic attitude towards regional cooperation and trade liberalization. We do agree that trade liberalization can greatly promote economic development and increase social welfare. However, it is also worth noticing that this process also brings certain negative impacts to participating economies, for example increasing unemployment in certain industries and insecurity in the domestic agriculture sector. We believe that PECC should also address the countermeasures for economies that suffer from these negative impacts to cope with them. More attention should be paid on minimizing the cost of free trade given the negative impacts.
From the State of the Region Report, it can be seen that most participants of the survey believe that APEC, ASEAN and TPP are all effective ways to promote regional integration, but the real effectiveness of these institutions remain unclear to the general public. PECC should devote more of its efforts in examining the effectiveness of the current institutions and convey the message to the public. We are also concerned about the cooperation and coordination problems in the region given so many established platforms to avoid overlapping and redundancy. Regarding the TPP, we should also consider the handling of the previous established free trade agreements to ensure the consistency and fairness of the partnership.
While attending the first concurrent session on services trade, we noticed that many speakers mentioned the importance of human capital investment. Dr. Gloria Pasadilla emphasized that the current service trade is transforming from cost driven to talents driven, meaning that investors will make their investment decision by examining the talent pool in a specific economy. The importance of human capital has been made clear, but more detailed practices should also be offered. We do appreciate the “Service Knowledge Platform” promoted by Mr. Sebastien Saez and we hope that this could be further elaborated in future PECC meetings.
Lastly, environmental issues play an important role in the trade arena and many governments try to bring green jobs as a new emerging sector to the economy. While it’s an emerging agenda and the definition of the environmental services and goods remains unclear under various negotiations, in addition, one of three themes this year in APEC is green growth, we were looking forward to having the plenary or concurrent session to address the relevance of environmental agreements and its interaction with trade policy.