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Independent Review of Australia’s Progress to Achieve APEC Goals
Issued by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation IAP Peer Review Meeting
All Member Economies are actively working to meet APEC’s free trade and investment objectives. Set in Bogor, Indonesia, in 1994 the APEC Bogor Goals seek to achieve the long-term goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific” by no later than 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.
Each APEC Member Economy undertakes a voluntary review of its progress toward implementing the Bogor Goals. The last review of Australia was conducted in 2003.
The Australian report was prepared by the Independent Experts designated by APEC – Akira Kohsaka, Professor of Economics from Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University, Japan, and Daniel Schwanen, Director of Research, from the Center for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
The full report is now available here.
Following are excerpts from each of the areas considered in the IAP Peer Review Report Study Report on Australia.
Tariffs – On tariffs, the simple average applied tariff fell from 6.1 per cent in 1996 to 4.3 per cent in 2002, and then to 3.53 per cent as of January 2006. 47.64 per cent of Australia’s applied MFN tariff lines are now zero, up from 40.6 per cent in 1996. Over 86 per cent of tariff line rates are 5 per cent or lower.
Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) – Australia generally does not make use of non-tariff measures, other than for soundly-based health and safety reasons and to discharge Australia’s international obligations.
Services – Australia has made further progress toward the Bogor goals in services since the last IAP with respect to formal cross-border barriers to services investment and trade, but has also accomplished progress with respect to indirect barriers to foreign investors and traders, as embodied for example by certain domestic regulatory measures.
Investment – Australia encourages foreign investment. Its foreign investment regime is generally transparent and liberal. It maintains a screening regime to ensure that foreign investment is not contrary to the national interest but this is rarely used and the general threshold has recently been increased.
Standards and Conformance – Different levels of standards and conformance between APEC member economies tend to cause technical and regulatory barriers to trade. There is a relatively high level of alignment of Australian standards with international standards. Australia participates actively in international standardization activities, in plurilateral as well as bilateral recognition arrangements of conformity assessments in the regulated as well as voluntary sectors.
Customs Procedures – Improvements in customs procedures will facilitate trade in the Asia-Pacific region. These improvements include full paperless trading and the implementation of an integrated IT system designed to streamline customs and business processes and the implementation of a single window for customs processing.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) – The 2006 IAP states that IP Australia is now able to offer streamlined methods of secure fee payments and electronic lodgment of documents, part of IP Australia’s wider “one-stop” facility that includes searching of IP databases and an Assisted Filing Service for trade mark applicants. As part of a strategy emphasizing a coordinated approach to intellectual property policy, the Plant Breeder’s Rights Office was moved to IP Australia in December 2004.
Competition Policy – Australia pays a great deal of attention to enhancing its competition regime. Many of its internal micro-economic policies are assessed through the prism of open but fair competition which indirectly favors more open trade and investment with other APEC economies.
Government Procurement – Australia’s federal government procurement framework, as embodied in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (CPGs) is fully consistent with APEC’s non-binding principles on government procurement. (These are value for money, open and effective competition, fair dealing, accountability and due process and non-discrimination.) The core principle of Australia’s procurement framework is value for money, which requires a comparative analysis of all relevant costs and benefits of each proposal throughout the whole life-cycle of the procurement.
Deregulation/Regulatory Review – Australia has made a number of moves over the past decade toward well thought-out and principles-based regulatory reform. Since 2003, further regulatory reforms have been implemented in a number of sectors including telecommunications, energy, transport and aviation.
Implementation of WTO Obligations and Rules of Origin – Australia has fully implemented its Uruguay Round WTO commitments, including in relation to WTO rules of origin. There were no questions or complaints from other APEC economies or from the APEC Business Advisory Council related to WTO implementation. Furthermore, the most recent WTO Trade Policy Review of Australia (which dates from 2002) makes no mention of lapses by Australia in this respect.
Dispute Mediation – Australia’s approach is to “seek to resolve disputes with other Governments in a cooperative and non-confrontational manner and having regard to International Law” (Australia 2006 IAP, p. 390).
Mobility of Business People – Australia has provided considerable leadership on this important front, as its ongoing Chairmanship of the APEC Business Mobility Group. The BMG works to make travel increasingly efficient and secure for business people in the APEC region. Australia also administers the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme on behalf of the BMG.