November 15, 2009
The APEC summit ended this Sunday in Singapore, concluding an 8-day talks marathon between its 21 member nations’ political leaders. The summit’s final declaration included a pledge to create a comprehensive “new growth paradigm” for the region, in order to avoid “growth as usual” strategies. (Vancouver Sun)
One of the most dynamic economic regions in the world, Asia-Pacific has a combined population of 2.7 billion, it accounts for a 44 percent share of the global trade and produces 54 percent of the world’s economic output.(Xinhua News) For countries like Canada, for example, further economic growth depends on forging better ties with nations from Asia.
The leaders present in Singapore consider the current economic recovery to be weak and believe that more efforts should be made to avoid protectionism and to advance the agenda of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade initiative aimed at reducing tariff as well as non-tariff barriers. Gone are the days when China’s third generation of leaders, like former president Jiang Zemin, were using APEC summits to dupe Western analysts into believing that their country was free from economic fallout from the 1998 Asian financial crisis. (the sad fact is that in 1999 the American intelligence establishment bought it, in spite of independent signals indicating the contrary. For details see “Inefficient State Companies Are Dragging China Down”, in Business Week Asian Edition 1999)
With the up-and-coming Asian Community trade bloc in mind, the leaders of the US, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore have also come up with a “pathfinder initiative” which promises APEC members to enable them to slash the cost of doing business in the region by 25 percent by 2015.
The European Union lacks an institution similar to APEC, which has been in existence for the past 20 years. In spite of partial successes like the recent EU-South Korea 27 billion-euro free trade agreement, EU member countries still have a lot of work to do towards creating similar structures in future, for the benefit of European companies doing business in the Pacific region.Florian Pantazi