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APEC promotes economic reform and good governance.

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I am delighted to announce today from the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, three new good governance capacity-building projects worth $1.1 million to be funded by Australia’s overseas aid agency, AusAID, in 2004.

Australia will fund: an initiative on strengthening risk management and governance in the ASEAN banking system; a project analysing cross-border income and capital flows to benchmark tax arrangements among South-East Asian economies; and an initiative to strengthen commercial laws by identifying best practice models in the enforcement of corporate governance and competition policy.

I am pleased that Ministers adopted an APEC Structural Reform Action Plan to accelerate economic reform and the strengthening of economic legal infrastructure in the APEC region. Australia has been working closely with Japan in developing this initiative.

It is fundamental that all APEC economies continue with comprehensive economic structural reform to improve their competitiveness, increase economic and employment growth, enhance their capacity to respond to external shocks and maximise the benefits which arise from trade and investment liberalisation.

Australia is now enjoying its eleventh year of economic growth, high levels of productivity, low inflation and strong employment growth, largely as a result of the comprehensive economic reform we have undertaken over the past two decades.

I have highlighted the importance of good governance to sustained economic development and prosperity. Foreign investment and overseas development aid will only succeed in boosting economic development if they are underpinned by good governance in recipient economies.

Australia has contributed significantly to APEC’s work in this area and I today launched a publication, Strengthening Commercial Laws in the APEC Region, to highlight best practice approaches to fundamental legal issues including corporate governance, contract law, enforcement and insolvency.

Building strong institutions and implementing and enforcing sound laws and regulations will enable economies across the Asia-Pacific to maximise the benefits of trade liberalisation and globalisation, and achieve sustained economic growth and development.

The publication Strengthening Commercial Laws in the APEC Region can be found at

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 0419 206 890 Jo Elsom (AusAID) Tel. 6206 4960 Mobile 0412 804 489

Lyndall Sachs (DFAT) 02 6261 1555

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet.