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APEC Business Advisory Council Meets to Finalize Annual Report


Representatives from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council are holding meetings this week to finalize their annual report for APEC leaders who will hold a summit on September 8 and 9. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from Sydney.

Energy, security, climate change, the World Trade Organization's stalled negotiations, and investment are all expected to be among the major topics in the annual report of the APEC Business Advisory Council, known as ABAC.

Tim Harcourt, the chief economist of the Australian Trade Commission, says ABAC plays an important role by informing governments where there are problems.

"The most important thing the business groups can do is to tell the governments where there are logjams, where there are obstacles, where things can improve," Harcourt said. "I think actually ABAC has played a pretty good leadership on that in talking about trade facilitation and basically making sure standards are consistent and harmonious across the region."

ABAC comprises up to three members of the private sector of each of the 21 economies that make up APEC. It meets three times a year. It was made a permanent body in 1995 to provide an independent business perspective within APEC.

Members represent a range of business sectors, including medium and small businesses.

ABAC says there is a need for businesses to improve energy efficiency and to encourage conservation practices, and is expected to include this in its annual report.

Harcourt, of the Australian Trade Commission, says the ABAC report will also discuss ways to enhance regional cooperation.

"I reckon they'll talk a little bit about customs and quarantine, a little bit about having consistent security arrangements around the region," Harcourt said. "And I think they'll want a one-stop shop in terms of combining security, immigration, customs, and quarantine together… just to make sure it's more streamlined and provides more certainty."

ABAC is the only non-governmental body that has an official role and formal dialogue with the leaders of the APEC economies. It will present its annual report at the APEC leaders meeting on Saturday.

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