Market Access Group

Trade liberalization, through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff measures (NTMs), encourages greater trade and investment flows, creates new business opportunities and jobs in the Asia-Pacific, and contributes to APEC's goal of advancing free and open trade and investment in the region.

Established in 1998 by the Committee for Trade and Investment (CTI), the Market Access Group's (MAG) mandates are to advance and integrate the CTI's objectives on tariffs and non-tariff measures. These are two of the 15 specific areas outlined in the Osaka Action Agenda through which APEC member economies are working to eliminate barriers to trade. As the MAG’s work encourages participation from other sectors, the group invites representatives from the business community, including the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), and the World Customs Organization (WCO), to its meetings and workshops.

Last page update: September 2018

Current Activities

The MAG holds its meetings twice a year, at the margins of the First and Third Senior Officials Meetings (SOM1 and SOM3). The group coordinates continuous discussions on the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA), the APEC Environmental Goods List, expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), remanufacturing, non-tariff measures (NTMs), rules of origin (ROOs) and other initiatives related to market access.

The following are MAG’s key initiatives:

SUPPORT FOR THE MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM (MTS)

APEC Environmental Goods List

The number of MAG members that have submitted items to add to the APEC Environmental Goods List have increased, and the MAG continues to urge members that have yet to fully implement the tariff reduction of the 54 products to do so.

Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA)

The robust trade of information technology or IT products today is driven by the rapid innovation of new technologies and consumer demand for the latest designs and technology platforms.  Over the years, because of this rapid technological advancement and changes in tariff classifications, APEC economies have recognized that there is a need to expand and update the 1996 World Trade Organization Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA requires that participants eliminate duties on IT products. As at 7 May 2018, 17 economies are members to the agreement. Most of the participants have also updated their respective WTO schedules of concessions, effectively modifying their bound tariff rates, to reflect their respective ITA expansion tariff commitments, as required by the agreement.

ADVANCING REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION

APEC Cross-Cutting Principles on Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs)

NTMs have been highlighted by the business sector as a major challenge to trade and investment in the region. The WTO World Trade Report refers to NTMs as “policy measures, other than tariffs, that can potentially affect trade in goods.” Not all NTMs have a negative effect on international trade flows; most are legitimately imposed for such purposes as protecting public health, safety, the environment, and animal welfare, or to regulate an aspect of the market’s function.  While acknowledging the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, it should also be recognized that regulations and policies invariably impose costs on doing business, participating in a market or, most importantly, conducting international trade.

Acting on NTMs is a specific area listed under the Osaka Action Agenda (1995)[1] to achieve the Bogor Goals.  Over the last two decades, APEC has undertaken numerous initiatives including studies, reports, seminars, trade policy dialogues, workshops and capacity building initiatives on NTMs, in a diverse range of areas from forestry and food, to information communication technology (ICT) and small to medium enterprises (SMEs). 

Endorsed in August 2018 by the Senior Officials, APEC Cross-Cutting Principles on NTMs are consistent with the WTO’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and other relevant international agreements.  This would result in a collective and principled APEC approach to NTMs that could usefully assess the consistency of existing measures as well as aid economies in developing any new measures.  A principled approach would enable a more predictable and reliable trading environment that minimizes unnecessary burdens.

Remanufacturing

Remanufacturing refers to the complete product recovery process—this could entail repair, replacement or the recovery of components for product reuse.

Industry representatives noted that remanufactured goods should be treated as the equivalent of new products in the trade policies of member economies. Ministers agreed to facilitate trade in remanufactured goods by making existing and future measures that apply to goods that are not newly manufactured publicly available.

The APEC Pathfinder Initiative on Facilitating Trade in Remanufactured Goods was incorporated into the 2011 APEC Ministerial Statement. As part of this pathfinder initiative, participating economies committed not to apply measures specifically concerning used goods and remanufactured goods. 13 economies are now participating in the initiative.

APEC Trade Repository

The APEC Trade Repository (APEC TR) is an online reference tool for trade and tariff information on APEC’s 21 member economies, in furtherance of its work towards trade facilitation, transparency, information dissemination and connectivity.

It is a result of APEC’s expansion of the sets of information made available to the public relevant to trade in the Asia-Pacific region, building on its work on 2010 on the APEC Tariff and Rules of Origin website (WebTR),

The APEC TR contains the following information on each economy:

  • Most favoured nation (MNF) tariff rates;
  • Preferential tariff rates
  • Rules of origin (ROO) on existing regional trade agreements and free-trade agreements (RTAs/FTAs)
  • Best practices in trade facilitation
  • Domestic trade and customs laws/regulations
  • Procedure and documentary requirements
  • Authorized economic operators (AEOs)
  • Other trade measures

Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize Micro-, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

The MAG acknowledges that one of its functions is providing timely and accurate information on export and import procedures and requirements through the development of guidebooks, usage of trade information portals and reviews of import licensing requirements, which will increase the transparency of trade data, and their accessibility to smaller businesses.

APEC Pathfinder for Self-Certification of Origin

MAG members are encouraged to join the APEC Pathfinder on Self Certification of Origin, which sought to reduce the administrative burdens and costs associated with navigating complex rules of origin documentation and procedures when utilizing FTAs. Twelve economies have joined the pathfinder.

Seminar on Understanding the Impact of Smart Manufacturing in Policy and Regulatory Approaches, 25–26 September 2018, Penang, Malaysia

While APEC has been an advocate of promoting global value chain development and cooperation as well as of facilitating the internet and digital economy, there is no initiative or project to date dedicated to smart manufacturing. Due to the disruptive nature of these technological changes, current government policy, framework and regulation would not be adequate to address issues faced through digitalization.  As such, this seminar seeks to address the gaps existing in this space for APEC to contribute towards challenges and opportunities incumbent with smart manufacturing.

Understanding its impact in the manufacturing and manufacturing-related services sector would enable economies to develop necessary policy responses as well as assist economies in identifying future areas of collaboration. A report of the Seminar will be available after the event.



[1] In Osaka Action Agenda, regarding NTMs, APEC economies set the objectives as (a) progressively reducing NTMs to the maximum extent possible to minimize possible distortion to trade, (b) eliminating any measures inconsistent with WTO agreements and fully complying to WTO agreements, and (c) ensuring the transparency of APEC economies’ respective non-tariff measures.

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