APEC to advance amid rapid, drastic changes

16:06, November 15, 2010      

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The 18th economic Leaders Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) came to a close in Yokohama, Japan on Sunday, Nov. 14. Under the theme of "Change and Action", APEC leaders adopted a leader's declaration that pledged further efforts in free trade and balanced economic growth but more work remains to be done.

In the declaration called "The Yokohama Vision – Bogor and Beyond", APEC leaders pledged to "take concrete steps" toward the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

In 1994, APEC Leaders announced in Bogor, Indonesia to commit to achieve free and open trade and investment by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies, which later became known as the Bogor Goals.

The 18th APEC leaders' informal meeting is held at a time when drastic changes have occurred in the world economic situation, the first-phase deadline for the 1994 APEC proposed Bogor Goals approaches and APEC itself has entered the third decade of development. And separate statements were adopted at the conclusion of the meeting in the Japanese port city of Yokohama on, among others, an FTAAP and the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment.

The 18th APEC summit has made a series of progress. First, it has made an assessment on the 2010 Bogor Goals. Overall, APEC has made remarkable achievements in promoting the trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, reducing the tariff barriers and transaction cost and increasing regional trade and investment. However, there is still a lot of work to do. On the other hand, the new trade protectionism is also gaining ground, some new features also appearing in trade policies and APEC has pledged no new trade barriers against free trade for the next three years.

Leaders pointed out that the significant progress made by the 2010 economies does not mean their work was complete, the assessment of the Bogor Goals highlighted the areas where barriers to trade and investment remain and where more concerted progress can be made. For APEC, the great value of the Bogor Goals came from establishing an ambitious target that encourages continuous individual and collective efforts to liberalize and facilitate trade and investment.

Second, a mutual recognition has been attained in the regional integration aspect, and an FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by developing and building on ongoing regional undertakings, such as the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN +3), ASEAN+6 and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among others. This mutual recognition has taken into account the multiplicity of the Asia-Pacific region and the existing integral foundation of Asia.

Third, the APEC member economies will implement a five-year growth strategy out to 2015 in view of economic resurgence in Asia-Pacific area, focusing on the five desired attributes of the balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth. These are the concrete moves APEC has taken in response to global economic restructuring and,

Fourth, APEC has mapped out grand prospects for the "APEC big family" in years ahead, or the great regional family with a more in-depth economic integration, a stronger strategic economic growth and a more secure economic environment.

Viewing from the above attainments, the Summit is very pragmatic or substantial, as it has made the appraisal and called call for actions with wide prospects. It has summed up both achievements and problems in the course of implementing the Bogor Goals over the past five years, anticipated and set forth the next five-year growth strategy to 2015, predicted prospects for the post-Bogor Goals era, made clear varied ways toward the FTAAP and showed in a comprehensive way the principles of consultation and mutual respect with the APEC members built on a voluntary basis.

The summit, with the theme of "Change and Action", has responded to the call of the post-crisis area, and striven for the progress amid "changes" or transformation and reflects the APEC's global influence and cohesive power in an endeavor to cope with urgent global or regional issues.

Chinese President Hu Jintao set forth three very important views at the APEC summit. First is to continue to advance the trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and to speed up regional economic integration. China is for enhancing the in-depth research on the FTAAP of different levels and in varied scopes and to precede it in orderly ways. Second is to hasten implementation of the growth strategy and improve the quality of economic growth, and third is to strengthen economic and technical cooperation, so as to reinforce developing member nations' independent development capacity and economic endogenous power.

These propositions expressed China's viewpoints on major issue of APEC and its future development direction, and it is also a vital, important contribution to the development of APEC.

In the past 20 years since its inception, APEC has made unremitting efforts for trade and investment liberalization and economic growth in the region. The APEC informal leaders meeting and the G20 summit, which pays close attention to urgent global economic issues, are complementing each other. To date, the Asia Pacific area is the "leading goat" in global economic recovery, and its balanced growth is conducive to the solution of the imbalanced global growth problem. At the same time, the balanced growth of world economy would also be helpful to the creation of a good economic environment in the Asia-Pacific region.

By Prof. Lu Jianren from the elite Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)


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