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.

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