APEC resolves to push information economy goals

Leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation nations concluded a two-day summit in Bangkok yesterday with a commitment...

Leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation nations concluded a two-day summit in Bangkok yesterday with a commitment to speed up progress with information-economy goals and to continue fighting optical disc piracy.

The goals, which include universal access to the Internet for all citizens of APEC by 2010, and improvement of intellectual property rights protection, were decided at a previous meeting.

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,.

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. 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.

A plan 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 in the US.

BSA's latest piracy survey estimated that about 77% 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.

APEC member nations, which together account for more than half the world's 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, the US and Vietnam.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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