APEC resolves to push ICT goals, tackle disc piracy

Leaders from the 21 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) nations concluded a two-day summit in Bangkok on Tuesday with a commitment to speed up progress toward previously set information-economy goals and to continue fighting optical disc piracy.

In a declaration issued at the end of the summit the officials said they instructed ministers to step up work toward IT goals, which include universal access to the Internet for all citizens of APEC by 2010. The goals were decided at a previous APEC meeting in Brunei Darussalam.

"We instructed Ministers to accelerate progress towards the Brunei goals on expanding Internet access, improvement of intellectual property rights protection, implementation of the e-APEC Strategy, and upgrading the ability of the workforce to effectively use the Internet, by developing their English-language and computer skills," said Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at a press conference at the end of the meeting, according to a transcript released by APEC.

The portions of the declaration dealing with IT also covered other ground, including improvement of intellectual property rights facilitation, protection and enforcement and implementation of the e-APEC Strategy.

The declaration also voiced support for a number of related issues including the upgrading of English-language and computer skills among the workforce for effective use of the Internet, as noted by Shinawatra.

The same issue came up for discussion at a retreat held during the summit. Officials at the summit noted that training of people and the skills they posses are a more crucial aspect of the information society than physical infrastructure, according to a published summary of the discussions at the retreat. The leaders shared a view that a three-way partnership between government, business and academia is vital in developing both the areas of infrastructure and human capacity, according to the summary.

A plan that aims to reduce piracy of optical discs by strengthening regulation of disc production facilities was also endorsed.

The report, "Effective Practices for Regulation of Optical Disc Production," was prepared by an APEC intellectual property rights working group and proposes to cut piracy by attempting to lay an audit trail that will identify facilities producing pirate discs. Measures include the licensing of optical disc production factories and the requirement for each disc pressed to carry an identification code.

Piracy is rife in several APEC economies, according to groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Its latest piracy survey estimates that about 77 percent of all software in use in 2002 in Thailand, the host nation for this year's summit, was pirated. In four other nations the rate is even higher, according to the BSA. It said piracy rates ranged from 95 percent to 89 percent in Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Russia.

APEC member nations, which together account for more than half the world's GDP (gross domestic product) and around half of all international trade, are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and Vietnam.

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