2011 Istanbul - Promoting a Conducive Climate for Trade and Investment in Infrastructure Development
Note: This policy statement was issued on the 6th of March 2011 during the 25th CACCI Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, with the assistance of CACCI member, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
1. The Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce of Industry (CACCI) represents a diverse group of chambers of commerce of industry, business associations and businesses in the Asia-Pacific region. CACCI is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s key representative business organizations. Its core purposes include: promoting the role of businesses in the region; increasing regional business integration; and enhancing regional economic growth. CACCI works in conjunction with a number of other key business groupings in the Asia-Pacific region.
2. Representing commonalities in such a diverse group of cultures, identities and peoples in the Asia-Pacific is not without its challenges. Yet the Asia-Pacific represents approximately 55 per of the world’s economic output and some of the most dynamic economies in the world.
3. More recently, the Asia-Pacific region was the standard bearer of world economic activity during the 2008/09 global financial crisis (GFC). The increasing integration of Asia’s economies was critical to kick-starting recovery from the GFC. Coming out of that crisis, global leaders looked to Asia for markets. Just as there can be no sustainable global recovery without global trade, there can be no meaningful global trade without Asia. CACCI’s Policy Work
4. CACCI promotes broad economic co-operation and economic convergence that meets growth and productivity goals. It sees facilitating business linkages and promoting trade and investment relationships as a crucial mechanism for greater economic development, poverty alleviation, and peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
5. With the post GFC expansion of multilateral forums such as the G8 into the G20, and the inclusion of more nations from Asia-Pacific, this complementarity in the policy voice of business in our region and sub regions is a desirable objective in its own right.
6. None of this can be realized without investment in infrastructure, which is the subject of this paper. It builds on previous work undertaken by CACCI, and its affiliates.
Basic Principles for Infrastructure Investment
7. It is widely accepted that the Asia-Pacific region is a wonderful environment to do business, with opportunities for entrepreneurship that well and truly exceed the challenges. Governments need to facilitate structures that encourage investment, wealth creation and jobs but without imposing excessive regulatory burdens on business.
8. Investment in infrastructure requires a conducive investment climate. Thus the broad principles that govern investment in infrastructure are common with policies that promote investment in other economic sectors such as energy, environment or financial services. 9. While investors in infrastructure will look to product and capital markets to be supervised, they will equally seek markets that are not overly constrained. An infrastructure investor looks to an environment which encourages investment flows, including foreign direct investment.
9. It is widely recognized that a regulatory framework that is not excessive is most likely to achieve acceptable and durable norms of behavior. In the words of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, economic activity requires good rules. This includes rules that: establish and clarify property rights; a credible legal system where the rule of law is respected and which reduces the costs of resolving disputes; and rules that increase the predictability of economic interactions.
Infrastructure Investment and Market Access
10. With limited national capacity to fund infrastructure from within its borders, investment in infrastructure requires a strong flow of capital across borders, and rules that provide investors and risk-takers with capacity to access both new and established markets for securing a return on infrastructure investment. Strong investment and infrastructure growth in Asia-Pacific should not lead to complacency in facilitating trade liberalization. Efforts to strengthen ıntegratıon should be reinforced.
11. The free flow of trade and investment ıs a sıne qua non for private sector partıcıpatıon in infrastructure development. An early completion of the Doha Development Round on the basis of consensus so far reached, for example, in the spheres of NAMA negotiations, agriculture and trade facılıtatıon, is important.
12. Regulatory predictability and greater transparency of regulations, and to a lesser extent the comparative advantages of an economy, are key conditions for open markets that promote investment in infrastructure. High goals should also be set in respect to the harmonization of the regulation of the market.
13. However, open markets are often limited and negatively affected by government controls. In turn, this inhibits infrastructure investment. For example, the region still experiences limits on foreign investment (including limits of foreign ownership in domestic companies and financial institutions) and limits of goods entry through tariffs and other border control measures. Limiting foreign investment through regulatory measures is an example of a nontariff or ‘soft’ trade barrier. These soft trade barriers also include restrictions or opaque regulations that hamper competition and innovation. The result of soft barriers is that they discourage businesses’ market entry through raising both the costs and risks of doing business. In turn that discourages investment in new infrastructure.
14. While it is expected that governments will always retain a degree of control of such soft trade barriers, and that some regulatory differences reflect local conditions (possibly exacerbated in Asia-Pacific because of the diversity of the region), CACCI supports the key goal of an open and transparent business regime in the Asia-Pacific.
The Infrastructure Challenge
15. Infrastructure investment is now a priority for almost every government across the globe. Economic infrastructure, such as roads, rail and ports are the traditional focus of policy makers. In countries with higher levels of industrialization, social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals also rank high in the mind of governments.
16. The challenge simply stated is this: the demand for investment in quality social and economic infrastructure is likely to significantly outweigh the fiscal resources of governments. Therefore governments need to facilitate the private sector’s provision of public infrastructure.
17. Addressing this challenge gives rise to specific issues within Asia Pacific economies and communities. For example:
18. Infrastructure investment should benefit small and medium enterprises through employment opportunities and consequential poverty alleviation;
19. While infrastructure development enhances the export of traditional commodities, the policy emphasis should also shift to infrastructure required to support the growing services sectors, such as aviation, navigation, energy, fınance and educatıon; and
20. Infrastructure development requıres prıorıty to meet the challenges of food securıty in light of regional population growth and forecast food shortages.
21. With many governments (as well as the private sector) seeking to respond to the global challenge of climate change and mitigate carbon emissions around global targets, the pressure to frame energy policy around investment in new and more sustainable infrastructure and technology can be expected to accelerate. This will add to demand, and challenge governments and the private sector to find new ways to fund energy infrastructure and alternative sources of energy generation.
22. Technology and technological innovation is at the heart of addressing the energy needs and environmental concerns in Asia-Pacific. However, technological innovation required to address these issues requires huge capital investment. Public policy must therefore support technological innovation by protecting intellectual property and facilitating investment in infrastructure by fostering efficient capital markets and a sound legal framework.
23. Climatic conditions and the force of nature also place severe pressure on infrastructure, particularly ageing transport and logistics infrastructure. In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced severe events that have damaged communities and structural infrastructure assets. These include tsunamis, earthquakes and floods. The restoration of infrastructure in the wake of such events is a substantial building block in the rebuilding of affected communities. In their own right, these events are dramatic and challenging to governments and the private sector. Should these events increase in frequency, cluster or intensity, as some scientists forecast, there will be even added pressure on the funding of infrastructure restoration.
Access to Infrastructure Finance
24. Infrastructure investment requires substantial and long term access to capital. In turn, this requires well-functioning finance markets across the globe. Commercial lending provides the liquidity to investors in infrastructure.
25. Whilst one effect of the GFC was to compress demand, another and potentially more deep seated impact was to tighten credit markets and limit the avenues for securing capital for infrastructure investment.
26. Paradoxically, while demand was suppressed many governments sought to fill the void with a range of publicly funded stimulus packages. In some nations substantial public funds were put into infrastructure investment. In some countries the quality of this investment was shorter term and low yield, designed to kick-start economic recovery and minimize the risk of deeper recessions. Understandable as that may have been, the consequence has been to create a shortfall in infrastructure investment in the region, and a legacy of debt laden governments with less than sufficient capacity to fund public infrastructure.
27. In this context the private sector role in infrastructure investment is likely to become more crucial in ensuring years. In turn, this will put greater pressure on financial markets to fund private capital. Competitiveness of these markets will also regulate price. The strengthening of capital markets enhances competitiveness for domestic business, reduces the cost of capital, and improves the efficiency of capital allocation. Capital market access for foreign investors means deeper, more liquid local markets that enhance the effectiveness of domestic monetary policy, reduce regional economies’ exposure to foreign currency denominated debt, and contribute to the overall soundness of domestic financial systems. Debt and equity markets require markets with the appropriate mix of oversight, sel-fregulation and trained labour.
Infrastructure Investment and Public-Private Partnerships
28. As economic infrastructure receives increasing amounts of private funding, the question is: how best can governments bridge this funding gap in other segments (such as social infrastructure), meet quality improvements demanded by the public and encourage private sector involvement?
29. The need to meet this funding gap and the increased focus on service delivery has provided the catalyst for the development and implementation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) across the world. It is in this context that PPPs are becoming a growing element of public sector procurement in Asia-Pacific nations, and as a result, many countries are examining ways in which they can facilitate greater private sector participation in the delivery of infrastructure.
30. Where there is a growing infrastructure deficit, it can be expected that this market segment will grow considerably in the years ahead. It must be recognized though that the approach which individual countries have taken to develop the PPP market have been quite different and a number of unique challenges have been encountered. Not all public infrastructure is suitable for PPPs and each project has a different level of government risk-sharing with the private sector.
31. For example, the delivery model for PPPs for infrastructure funding differs. In some countries (Australia, for example) the private sector is responsible for full service delivery from design, build, finance and operation over a concession period that in some social and economic projects might be for ‘whole-of-life’ period of 20 to 40 years. In other countries (Japan, for example) the private sector is generally restricted under the PPP model to building and financing an infrastructure asset which is subsequently transferred to the government for operation.
32. Some of the key challenges in continuing to attract private sector investment in infrastructure include:
32.a. Early and easy accessibility to information on projects for new market entrants to enable them to bid competitively;
32.b. Ability of new market entrants to form or join consortia to bid for projects;
32.c. Development of a sustainable pipeline or market opportunities across a wide range of sectors to enable entrants to make an informed choice over the scale of the investment opportunity; and
32.d. Scope to determine the best level of investment in the market.
33. The traditional analysis of infrastructure investment revolves around economic and social infrastructure in the form of physical assets.
34. This is a limited and limiting notion.
35. If the 21st century is to be the Asia-Pacific century, it could equally be said to be the knowledge century. Investment in the Asia –Pacific in human infrastructure, through education and training, through innovation and in the health and wellbeing of citizens, has the capacity to provide Asia-Pacific nations with a powerful human infrastructure asset. The productivity of a nation’s people is a product of knowledge and learning, not just the efficiency of, say, its transport and logistics infrastructure.
36. In this respect social infrastructure has a close synergy with driving the economic benefits of economic infrastructure.
CACCI and CACCI Member Chambers
a. CACCI should encourage and promote increased infrastructure development in areas appropriate for the countries concerned. Doing so will open new markets to goods and services, both during and after the development phase, and improve economic development and the lives of ordinary people in the region;
b. CACCI should provide a portal of information and learning about country experiences with Public-Private Partnerships;
c. CACCI and CACCI member chambers should include in its promotion of infrastructure investment the development of knowledge and learning of a nation’s peoples;
d. CACCI and CACCI member chambers should use its leadership in drawing together a greater private sector voice to eschew not only border protection measures such as tariffs, but also behind the border protectionism (the unseen barriers in markets) that inhibit the entrepreneurship and dynamism of investors in infrastructure;
e. CACCI and CACCI member chambers should encourage visits by national chambers and bilateral business councils with expertise in the development of infrastructure projects;
f. CACCI member chambers should work with governments to develop lists of tenders for infrastructure projects that are potential investment opportunities. This ınformatıon could be lısted on the CACCI websıte by country and sector;
g. CACCI member chambers should encourage governments to develop targets for infrastructure development accordıng to natıonal development objectıves and capacıtıes;
h. CACCI and CACCI member chambers should encourage all parties to adhere to ethical business practices and principles when submitting bids particularly for government procurement or public tenders in relation to infrastructure development.
Asian Region Governments
a. Governments should create a conducive economic and regulatory climate for the flow of private sector investment to support infrastructure development, and for the private sector to secure a profitable return on that investment;
b. Governments should develop business models for the operation of Public-Private Partnerships for infrastructure funding, according to national and local circumstances. This includes governments adopting policies and regulations to permit the private sector the broadest spectrum of financing options for funding infrastructure PPPs;
c. Governments are encouraged to pursue world’s best practice in the establishment of capability building regarding the project preparation and transaction cycle and the development of risk management strategies and the elimination of moral hazard situations;
d. Governments should review policies that impede or prohibit foreign direct investment for infrastructure funding, and ensure that such policies, where they exist, are founded on sound public interest considerations;
e. Governments should not cost-shift the provision of necessary public infrastructure to the private sector;
f. Governments should place high priority on the development of value-adding economic, social and human infrastructure, in preference to excessive short-term spending on bureaucracy or administration;
g. Governments should adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability when calling for tenders or procurement for public infrastructure development;
h. Governments should avaıl themselves of the technıcal and fınancıal assıstance avaılable from ınternatıonal and regional development organızatıons.