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The 56th Governing Body Meeting (GBM) of the APO opened in Hanoi on 15 April 2014 and concluded on the 17th. Fifty-four delegates comprising APO directors and their advisers from 19 members, along with observers from the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology of Turkey, FAO, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Pan African Productivity Association were in attendance.
Vice Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh was the guest of honor at the event. In his keynote speech, he commented that, “For businesses, productivity, quality, and innovation are factors to help improve performance and competitive advantage in the domestic as well as international markets. I believe that the APO, which leads and coordinates activities to promote quality and productivity in the Asia-Pacific, will put forward innovative and appropriate strategies to support its members in a more effective way.”
APO Director for Vietnam Dr. Ngo Quy Viet delivered the welcome remarks. He stated that, “The APO is also an important bridge connecting members in the region as well as with other international organizations.” APO Chair Yamaaranz Erkhembayar expressed similar sentiments, adding, “In recent years, the Asia-Pacific member economies have shown great resilience in growing despite the global economic and financial crises that took place over several years. The year 2014 is expected to see strengthening economic growth for all APO member countries. As we endeavor to grow stronger and more competitive, productivity enhancement remains one of our top priorities. In order to achieve these targets, the APO therefore still has to continue making strong efforts to improve the productiveness and competitiveness of member countries.”
During the plenary session, APO Director for Nepal Krishna Gyawali was elected APO Chair for 2014–2015, with APO Alternate Director for Pakistan Arif Ibrahim (representing APO Director for Pakistan Shafqat Hussain Naghmi) and APO Director for the Philippines Margarita R. Songco assuming the positions of First and Second Vice Chairs, respectively. Key GBM agenda items included the annual report of the Secretary-General, report on the revised APO membership contribution formula, and approval of the APO preliminary budget for the 2015–2016 biennium.
The meeting unanimously approved the preliminary budget for the 2015–2016 biennium which maintained the same level of total membership contributions as for the 2013–2014 biennium but increased the budget by 5% to include more projects. Additional sources of income to fund the increased expenditure will come from surpluses and other sources.
APO Directors made presentations on key drivers of growth in their countries in the next five years. They also shared views on areas where APO programs could contribute better to policy making in their countries. Many directors also strongly encouraged the APO to develop alternative revenue streams to generate income and expand its activities aggressively.
GBM delegates were invited to visit the famed herbal medicine manufacturer Traphaco. Traphaco Chairperson Vu Thi Thuan, who benefited from an APO project as a participant, provided the delegates a fascinating glimpse into how Vietnam has led the way in commercializing traditional medicine and knowledge. A visit to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, a valuable center for the preservation of the cultural heritages of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, was also enjoyed by the delegates.
Acting APO Director for Thailand Dr. Bondee Bunyagidj announced that the 57th GBM would be hosted by Thailand and welcomed all delegates to Bangkok next year. Presenting the vote of thanks, APO Director for Fiji Taito Roba Waqa expressed appreciation to the Government of Vietnam for hosting the meeting as well as APO Director for Vietnam Dr. Ngo Quy Viet for his leadership and guidance in making the meeting successful.
In his closing statement, Secretary-General Mari Amano also expressed gratitude to the Government of Vietnam. He thanked Vice Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh for attending the GBM and supporting APO activities that improve the productivity of SMEs; outgoing Chair Yamaaranz Erkhembayar, APO Director for Mongolia, for his leadership during his tenure; APO member governments and their NPOs for the support given to the Secretariat; and the Vietnam Productivity Centre and its staff for working with the Secretariat to organize a successful GBM.