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Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

5 August 2008


APEC Meeting Adopts Measures To Support Structural Reform

Over the last two days it has been my pleasure to chair the first APEC Ministerial Meeting dedicated wholly to structural reform.

The meeting was a timely opportunity for Ministers from across the Asia-Pacific to share experiences and ideas about vital structural reforms that can strengthen our economies.

The meeting focused in particular on "behind the border" reforms within economies that are critical to boosting economic growth, such as tackling overregulation and barriers to competition.

The meeting has taken place amid very challenging global conditions, with Ministers recognising that these tough global conditions further underscore the need to pursue further structural reform.

Structural reforms support well-functioning markets. They contribute to macroeconomic stability, higher productivity, higher incomes and higher living standards.

While Ministers agreed there is no "one-size-fits-all" model of structural reform, they also agreed that economies need strong political will and strong technical capacities to pursue reforms.

Accordingly, my APEC colleagues and I agreed on a number of concrete measures that will support APEC's structural reform agenda and help our economies pursue reforms in the future.

  • Sound institutions are the bedrock of reform. To help build and maintain effective institutions which support reforms, the APEC Economic Committee will develop a process of voluntary reviews or self-review of economies' institutional frameworks.
  • Regulatory reform is also central to structural reform - it ensures that economies balance the need for effective protection with the need to minimise the regulatory burden on businesses. That is why today we endorsed the APEC Good Practice Guide on Regulatory Reform. The Guide was prepared by the APEC Economic Committee in collaboration with APEC member economies. The Guide is intended to help economies in designing and improving regulatory architecture. It will also enable economies to tailor their regulatory frameworks to their individual circumstances and priorities.
  • The ability to implement structural reform relies heavily on the technical capacity of each APEC economy. Under a proposal agreed to at the meeting, the APEC Economic Committee will develop a program of practical support and capacity building initiatives. This proposal is aimed at enhancing the capacity of member economies to successfully undertake reform.
  • We have agreed that the Economic Committee of APEC will draw on the expertise and capacity of the newly established APEC Policy Support Unit to advance the Economic Committee's revised work program.

The meeting also benefited greatly from frank discussions with businesses representatives from the region about the valuable role business can plan - complementing the role of government - in driving structural reform.

In hosting this important meeting the Australian Government has demonstrated its strong support for structural reform to underpin sustainable growth and higher living standards for the people of the Asia-Pacific region.

I thank my APEC colleagues and all staff for contributing to an extremely productive meeting.

5 August 2008