July was a busy month for ASR, which makes for a comprehensive ASR Connect.
Our current major project, preparations for the release of the OECD’s study on the competitiveness of Australian services, is progressing well. We continue to work closely with Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). We recently indicated to the Minister which of the report’s findings we believe ought to be prioritised; a PDF of our remarks can be downloaded here. We will host workshops in the near future to flesh out these priorities, with an initial focus in August on Health Tourism, Fintech, ICT and Education Services (more on this soon).
In the context of this work, ASR is chairing a new Services Export Action Group (SEAG) which has been set up to oversight this policy development, and develop an associated 2 year implementation action plan. Other members of the group include the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, the Export Council of Australia and the Business Council of Australia.
ASR President Jane Drake-Brockman met with the Managing Director of the European Services Forum in the immediate lead up to the first round of negotiations for the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement in Brussels. These negotiations included a scoping session on services for which ASR provided DFAT with a significant input—specifically on EU Member States’ positions on the European Commission proposed FTA language on cross-border data flows.
ASR was also represented by the President in London at several meetings on post-Brexit UK trade policy development and the Australia-UK FTA. These meetings included the UK Department of Trade and Industry emerging UK services stakeholder groups in the UK. Organisations like CityUK, TechUK, Creative Industries Federation and the Professional and Business Services Council are likely to coalesce into a services coalition at some point; all these interlocutors want to stay in close contact with ASR as the UK develops an independent, highly services- and innovation-oriented trade policy.
ASR participated in a Global Services Coalition teleconference to discuss opportunities for joint advocacy of anti-protectionism in the G20 and WTO context and to share perspectives on US-China relations in particular.
As chair of the Asia Pacific Services Coalition (APSCo), ASR has also taken the lead in designing and organising the 2018 APEC public-private dialogue on services to be held in Port Moresby on 12 August. The topic is: Cross-Border E Commerce in Services: The Transformation to Digitisation; Addressing the Challenges and Reaping the Benefits for Regional Trade in Services.
This will be followed by the 4th annual meeting of the APSCo on 13 August. APSCo’s priority will be to ensure 2018 deliverables in the implementation of the Asia Pacific Services Competitiveness Roadmap. In particular, we hope that APEC will agree this year on non-binding principles for domestic regulation in the services sectors.