Resilient region of Asia-Pacific key to global economic growth
The 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting was held in Bali, Indonesia, from Oct 5 to 7 under the theme of "Towards Resilience and Growth: Reshaping Priorities for the Global Economy". According to the organizers, the summit was aimed at building Asia-Pacific into a region of vitality to enable it to fuel global economic growth.
APEC's motto and motive are more that welcome, especially when large parts of the global economy are still struggling with economic downturn. Since the United States and the European Union both are yet to recover from the global financial and the eurozone debt crises, the attention of the entire world is focused on the Asia-Pacific region to put the global economy back on the track of growth.
And the Bali theme shows that APEC has the potential and confidence to pull the global economy out of recession.
The 2008 global financial crisis, which started in the US and spread to the rest of the world, is still haunting many countries, both developed and developing. Combined with the Cold War mentality that unfortunately some countries still have, and the US' strategic shift toward the Asia-Pacific, the global economic crisis has created uncertainties for the world economy and international relations.
APEC's theme was also in line with the global pursuit of peace, development and cooperation. Most of the APEC member economies cherish an environment favorable to peace and development. They want better cooperation, not alliance, because the latter is reminiscent of the Cold War days. They hope to use cooperation to achieve common prosperity, and are not interested in "taking sides" between confronting groups.
The Bali theme demonstrated the pursuit of Asia-Pacific economies, too, which will play a definitive role in global economic recovery and sustainable development. This is important because the impact of the repeated use of quantitative easing measures by the world's major economies, the US in particular, has been severely felt by emerging economies like Indonesia, which is a member of APEC, and India, Brazil and South Africa.
Since China also faces an economic slowdown because of global downturn, many commentators have started forecasting the demise of emerging economies, especially BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Thus it is essential for APEC member economies, especially China, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian countries, to demonstrate the potential of and instill confidence in the Pacific Rim economies. The US, as a member of APEC, should also play its role as a leading contributor to the Asia-Pacific region's economic growth.
The APEC theme illustrated an essential objective of the forum — the Bogor Goals, or liberalization of trade and investment in the region. The Bogor Goals, an agreement reached by APEC leaders in 1994, together with the Osaka Action Agenda, are the biggest strategic achievements of APEC. APEC had set the deadline of 2010 for developed member economies and 2020 for developing economies to fulfill their respective requirements to achieve the goals.
The US had drawn up various road maps and worked out annual evaluations to realize the goals. But even three years after the passing of the deadline, it has not fulfilled its responsibilities. Instead, it is trying to cash in on new concepts such as the Tran-Pacific Partnership, which exceeds the demands of the Bogor Goals.
One of the US' main purposes is to impose its value and market standards on other APEC economies for entry into the forum it has created to suit its own interests. This is preposterous. As one of the world's most important regional organizations, APEC aims to promote economic cooperation to benefit all its members. Therefore, by trying to impose its standards and values to interact and cooperate with other APEC member economies, the US is violating the letter and spirit of APEC and the Bogor Goals.
Of course, the US proposals can be discussed. But they should be discussed in accordance with the strategic goals of APEC as a whole. The APEC meeting in Bali was to discuss how to realize the Bogor Goals and other APEC strategic goals, as well as the possibilities that can be availed of after 2020. After all, APEC is an organization of 21 members, not just the US. Hopefully, the US has realized that after the Bali meeting.
The author is executive director of the Strategy Study Center, China Foundation for International Studies, and China's former senior official to APEC. This opinion piece is published by China Daily on October 8.