Staff writer

Amid the rising tide of economic globalization and information technology, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will go online next year in a bid to help accelerate the flow of trade and investment within the Asia-Pacific region.

At the next annual meeting of its ministers and top leaders in Brunei in November, the 21 APEC economies will formally agree to publish various data on exports and imports on the Internet, starting in January, according to Japanese government officials.

The trade data to be published on the Web page of the APEC secretariat in Singapore will cover all industrial and agricultural product categories, the officials said, asking that they not be named.

Anyone who visits the APEC Web site will be able to see the type and annual quantity of goods imported and exported by each member economy, as well as the import tariff rate it levies for specific products, the officials said. A product-by-product list of private-sector importers in each country will also be posted on the site.

APEC members will also begin in January to publish Individual Action Plans (IAPs) for trade and investment liberalization on the Internet. The move will allow Internet users to immediately view the specific measures each member has taken to liberalize and facilitate trade and investment, the officials said.

At their 1994 summit in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders set the ambitious goal of liberalizing trade and investment around the Pacific Rim by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies.

To achieve that goal, APEC leaders who met at Subic Bay Freeport in the Philippines in 1996 adopted the Manila Action Plan for APEC, which consists of the Collective Action Plans and the IAPs.

IAPs, which are reviewed annually, reflect how each member economy intends to individually move toward free trade and investment, while CAPs specify how member economies should work together to facilitate trade and investment.