Thursday, October 10, 2013


    Jakarta, Oct 10, 2013 (Antara) - Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), meeting at their 21st Summit in Bali, reiterated their commitment to strengthening and deepening regional economic integration and eliminating barriers to international trade and investment in the region.  
   APEC has identified regional connectivity, through air and water transportation, as well as electronically, as being crucial in reducing barriers, and set a target for achieving full connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region by the year 2030.

        "We will pursue greater connectivity to break new ground, help economies to create better quality and more productive jobs and marshal purposeful partnerships for the future," the APEC economies' leaders said in their declaration, entitled the "Bali Declaration - Resilient Asia-Pacific, Engine of Global Growth" issued at the end of their summit on October 8, 2013.
         Promoting connectivity is one of the three main priorities they agreed upon, with the other two being "Attaining the Bogor Goals" and "Achieving Sustainable Growth with Equity".
        To integrate APEC economies, Indonesia proposed the APEC Framework of Connectivity (AFC), which contains the commitment of APEC Economic Leaders to improve, deepen and widen physical, institutional and individual connectivity across the APEC region.
         The APEC connectivity program is part of the  Master Plan of  Indonesian Economic Growth Acceleration (MP3EI) and Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC).
         The Indonesian foreign ministry, on its official website, explained that physical connectivity means the integration and connection of infrastructure in logistics, transportation, energy, and telecommunications in the APEC region.
         Institutional connectivity is the increase in coherence, inter-operability, and harmonization among institutions, mechanisms, and processes among APEC economies.
         While individual connectivity comprises the strengthening of interaction, mobility, and inter-community activities in the APEC region, the ministry noted.
         "I am convinced that this document will become a historical milestone that will strengthen regional cooperation and integration in APEC," said Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa, following the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Bali on October 4 and 5, 2013.
        The APEC ministers had outlined strategies for the implementation of APEC connectivity, among other things, by boosting infrastructure development and improving the quality of transportation.
        APEC reportedly needs US$850 billion to build a proper infrastructure. This considerable amount of money needs to come from sizeable financial sources, particularly in the private sector.
        To meet this goal, the Indonesian President called for closer cooperation between the government and the private sector.
       "We share the view that greater connectivity will help reduce production and transportation costs, strengthen regional supply chains and improve the business climate in the region. At the same time, infrastructure and connectivity building will create more jobs and ensure job security," President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono said,  after the conclusion of the APEC Leaders Meeting 2013 in Bali.
       The Bali Declaration stated the leaders have envisioned a blueprint that will accelerate and encourage balanced, secure and inclusive growth, as well as connect growth in the region, through means such as strengthening regional quality transportation networks, reducing transaction costs, and making the region more competitive and cohesive.
        Meanwhile, specific actions have been planned, such as to accelerate connectivity work in order to achieve a 10 percent  improvement in supply-chain performance by 2015 in terms of time, cost, and uncertainty.
        They also will establish the APEC Trade and Investment Liberalization Sub-Fund on Supply Chain Connectivity.
         Major APEC economies, such as Japan and China, have expressed their willingness to help build infrastructures in the region in order to increase connectivity.
        "Let's boost regional connectivity in the region and ensure strong economic growth among APEC economies," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his keynote address at the APEC CEO Summit 2013.  
   China was also ready to explore and expand investment and financing channels for infrastructure construction and proposed the establishment of an Asia infrastructure investment bank.
        Emphasizing the significance of APEC connectivity, Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the Bali summit, outlined his point through four areas of concern APEC economies should establish a connectivity network covering the entire Asia Pacific, to help bolster the construction of economic corridors in various sub-regions and foster a vast Asia-Pacific market covering 21 economies and 2.8 billion people, Xi said, as quoted by Xinhua.
        Xi believed APEC members should also promote connectivity and infrastructure construction within the frameworks of regional and international cooperation. As the APEC Chair 2014, China will host the 22nd APEC informal economic leaders' meeting in Beijing next autumn.
        In addition to accelerating the implementation of physical and institutional connectivity, APEC is also promoting people-to-people connectivity, with the target of exchanging one million university-level students per year among APEC members by 2020. ***3***

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