Business Advisory Council Serves APEC

The October 18-21 fourth meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) opened Thursday in Shanghai. As a private-sector arm of APEC, the business advisory council played a key role over the past five years in serving to facilitate communications between economic leaders and enterprises of APEC. While the ABAC meeting was still in progress, interviewed its chairman for the year 2001, Qin Xiao who is also chairman of China Merchants Holding Co. Ltd. How does ABAC promote the development of APEC?

Qin: Established in November 1995, the Business Advisory Council aimed to reflect the voices of enterprises. It is well-known that enterprises are the main driving force in the process of regional economy liberalization and they provide information for APEC economic leaders and government officials in policy-making. So far, ABAC has 21 member economies each of which has three representatives including one from small- and medium-scale enterprises. The representatives are chosen by the heads of economies. Their work is to evaluate the progress of trade targets according to the annual proposals. Based on this, ABAC presents one comprehensive report reflecting the opinions of enterprises to the leaders concerned at the final discussion stage of APEC. Can you say something about the upcoming dialogue between ABAC and APEC economic leaders?

Qin: The dialogue is based on the report finished last month, which already has been handed to their heads by the representatives. The direct dialogue will cover five aspects: investment and trade, financing, technology, small and medium scale enterprises and action plan monitoring. The focus will be three “hows:” How to deepen markets opening; how to conduct capability building; and how to involve full participation. In terms of economic globalization, what suggestions will ABAC propose at this meeting? As for financial risk, what predictions will ABAC give to APEC economic leaders?

Qin: Economic globalization is a trend and direction. Every member economy is very much concerned about it because it is an important precondition for quickening the circulation of resources and raising efficiency of resources. However, economic globalization is not a spontaneous process, it is a process with clear purpose, guidance, negotiation and cooperation. For example, the financial systems are increasingly vulnerable to potential crisis. Against this background, we encourage the opening of finance on the one hand; we stress the stability of finance on the other hand. Generally speaking, enhancing the construction of finance including human power, order, management, bank supervision will keep the healthy and orderly development of financial market. But financial crisis is unpredictable so we have to keep an eye on the international capital market as well as foreign exchange market. That’s the job of ABAC. Does ABAC give advice on how to deal with the business sector in case of an unsteady economic situation? Is there anything concerning Chinese enterprises? What expectation do the representatives from business circle have for APEC?

Qin: The mandate of ABAC is to provide consulting to promote the trade target and trade liberalization. As the host country of APEC 2001, China has a good economy. It is said one of the important reasons for so many enterprisers come to the big gathering is because they want to have a close look at the Chinese investment environment. The expectations for APEC can be: First, to reconfirm the promise of the “Bogor Declaration” even in the current economic situation; second, to not only promote the development of APEC but also to stimulate economic growth such as handling financial crisis. The plan of the Business Travel Card is one of successfully realized targets this year. The Chinese Foreign Ministry is going to declare that China will join this program with help from some other ministries concerned. The Business Travel Card will be a great convenience for Chinese business people in international business activities. Trade and investment liberalization and economic technical cooperation are regarded as the “two wheels” of APEC, but the fact is that trade and investment liberalization are mentioned much more, why?

Qin: Economic trade zone is economic entity, which can be divided into two parts: One is market and cooperation, the other is government control with planned economy system. Therefore, ABAC emphasized “Market opening, capability building and full participation” because these three elements reinforce one another and none of the three can be neglected.

( by Yan Xixia, staff reporter, translated by Zheng Guihong October 19, 2001)

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