APEC ministers set to sign telecoms equipment standards deal

APEC ministers set to sign telecoms equipment standards deal

Telecommunications ministers from the 18 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries will sign a landmark multilateral agreement today to accept each other's testing procedures for telecoms equipment.

The groundwork for the agreement was laid during the Third APEC Ministerial Meeting on Telecommunications being held here, the meeting's organisers the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) said.

The Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) will reduce technical barriers to trade in telecommunications equipment by allowing equipment to be tested in the exporting economy in accordance with the importing economy's standards. Telecommunications equipment can then be accepted in the importing economy, shortening manufacturers' time to market.

Negotiations on the MRA were concluded in nine months with the majority of APEC economies yesterday indicating their willingness to commit to dates for their participation, TAS said.

Ministers are expected to endorse this landmark agreement when they meet during the ministerial meeting tomorrow, TAS said.

Senior officials also agreed to push forward a pro-active agenda on electronic-commerce, TAS said. They defined a framework for action, which will promote e-commerce for use by businesses and by consumers; contribute to the harmonisation of the region's e-commerce policies; promote the development of e-commerce infrastructure, services and applications; and facilitate the electronic delivery of government services.

Officials recognised the importance of the private sector in this field, and recommended an enhanced partnership with the private sector to ensure the success of these efforts, TAS said.

Senior officials also addressed access to basic telecommunications infrastructure in APEC countries, seen as a key impediment to their transition to the digital economy. The officials will seek ministerial endorsement of a list of Universal Access Principles to help guide APEC economies to address this task in a manner consistent with existing legal and regulatory environments of each economy, TAS said.

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