Improving APEC connectivity to spur integration
Asia-Pacific economies are counting on enhanced regional connectivity to stimulate trade and attract investment, as they pursue decisive measures to improve regional economic integration.
Zhang Shaogang, directorgeneral of the department of international trade and economic affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, said regional connectivity is among the 21 member economies’ top priorities when it comes to promoting comprehensive development in infrastructure, investment, trade and tourism.
China has been keen to accelerate the formulation of the APEC Blueprint on Connectivity 2015-2025 agreed by leaders at the 2014 APEC meeting in Beijing. The plan involves hardware, software and people-to-people exchanges to provide a strong foundation for the region’s long-term development.
Hardware, or physical connectivity, includes maritime, land and air transport, energy infrastructure, telecommunications and information and communication technology.
Software, or institutional connectivity, comprises customs, supply chains, finance, regulatory coherence and structural reform.
People-to-people connectivity includes business mobility, student and researcher mobility, tourism facilitation, labor and professional mobility and crossborder education.
Huang Youfang, president of Shanghai Maritime University, said that the top priority is to establish a flexible physical transportation network throughout the region to further stimulate economic growth.
Major Chinese airlines including Hainan Airlines Co Ltd, Air China Ltd and China Southern Airlines Co Ltd have all opened new routes between various Chinese cities and foreign destinations such as Sydney, Vancouver and Las Vegas over the past two years.
In the meantime, China COSCO Shipping Co, the country’s largest shipping company by fleet size, has also deployed more resources, including container and special ships, to connect ports in South America and Southeast Asia.
“The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies, particularly those in Southeast Asia and South America, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Peru and Chile, are building new platforms for broader cooperation with major APEC economies,” said Chen Yingming, executive vicepresident of the Shanghaibased China Port and Harbors Association.
These platforms include upgraded logistics services, giant international shipping companies, new air routes, pipelines, port facilities and land and sea telecommunications.
“From a long-term view, the new mechanism will fully support trade, private investment, industrial productivity and the service sector in the APEC region,” said Chen.