From Russia With Trade
I just returned from the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, where leaders made steady advances to boost global free trade.
A former Soviet era outpost, Vladivostok was once off-limits to foreigners as well as Soviet citizens. Russia made an impressive showing for the visiting APEC business and government leaders, spending billions of dollars on stunning new bridges and an entirely new university campus, where the APEC meetings were held.
The APEC Summit came at a challenging time for the global economy, with growth and trade slowing and the risk of increasing protectionist measures being imposed. The growth rate of global trade has rapidly slowed, falling from 12 percent in December to 4.6 percent in May, according to one report.
Trade is critical to the global economy, particularly among the 21 APEC nations which represent 44 percent of world trade, 3 billion consumers and a combined GDP of $39 trillion. Increased market access and trade are central components of business growth and job creation. As the world’s largest express delivery company, FedEx Express continuously works to help our customers benefit from increased market access. By moving goods faster and more reliably across borders, our customers can decrease costs, improve supply chains, and identify new opportunities for growth and profitability.
FedEx was in Vladivostok as part of the APEC US Business Coalition. We have been a longtime supporter of APEC because this government-to-government initiative offers the business community an opportunity to provide input into the economic agenda of the APEC region, which is the fastest growing region in the world. Through our engagement with APEC FedEx has been able to help guide the APEC agenda to focus more attention on trade promotion and facilitation, two of our key policy objectives.
We were pleased that at the end of their meetings leaders reaffirmed their pledge to pursue policies that will stimulate trade, investment and innovation as well as to refrain from enacting protectionist measures through 2015.
One of the more important achievements of this Summit was that APEC produced a list of environmental goods for tariff cuts. This is a great example of how APEC can influence global trade initiatives through its regional leadership efforts.
Trade facilitation and global supply chains remain high on the APEC priority list, including a special initiative to raise de minimis thresholds to at least $100 across all APEC economies. This is one of many trade facilitation measures that APEC is pursuing as part of its broader goal of achieving a 10 percent improvement in supply-chain performance by 2015, in terms of reduction of time, cost, and uncertainty of moving goods and services through the Asia-Pacific region.
There is much more to do on trade, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that are taking place this week in Leesburg, Virginia, where 11 countries including the United States are negotiating new avenues of free trade on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Additionally Congress should quickly pass Russia PNTR to enable the United States to benefit from Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. FedEx is also eager to see progress on a potential new international agreement to liberalize services. Increased services trade would be a boon to the global economy.
The future of FedEx is closely tied to increased global trade. Participating in APEC is one of many ways that FedEx works to shape the emerging rules of the global economy to embrace the principles free trade and open markets.