In APEC speech, Xi touts China’s economy as base of free trade

In News

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit was recently hosted virtually by Malaysia.

News Summary:

Highlights of the summit:

  • Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) said free, open, non-discriminatory and predictable trade and investment are needed to drive economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The members also expressed their support for World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, to promote stability and predictability of international trade flows.
  • South Korea’s President said that Asia Pacific countries should facilitate business and other essential travel despite the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s address at the summit:

  • China’s President, Xi Jinping promised to keep China’s economy open and warned against protectionism.
  • He shared that China will continue to reduce tariffs and institutional costs and will sign more free trade pacts with other countries.
  • He stated that Asia-Pacific is the leader in driving global growth in a world hit by multiple challenges including the coronavirus.
  • He underlined that globalization is irreversible and called for stronger policy coordination between states.

About: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum that promotes free trade throughout the Asia Pacific region.
  • APEC was established in 1989,in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the beginning of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world.
  • It aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
  • Headquartered in Singapore, APEC is recognized as one of the highest-level multilateral blocs and oldest forums in the Asia-Pacific region, and has a significant global influence.

Membership:

  • APEC currently has 21 members. The criterion for membership is that the member is a separate economy, rather than a state.As a result, APEC uses the term member economies rather than member countries to refer to its members.
  • The word ‘economies’ is used because the forum is predominantly concerned with trade and economic issues, with members engaging with one another as economic entities.
  • One result of this criterion is that membership of the forum includes Taiwan (officially the Republic of China, participating under the name “Chinese Taipei”) along with People’s Republic of China.
  • It also includes Hong Kong, which entered APEC as a British colony but it is now a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
  • APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam. 
  • APEC also includes three official observers: ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.

Scope of work:

  • Trade and Investment Liberalization
    • APEC members take actions to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment that boosts job creation, incomes and growth. 
    • Collaboration is guided by APEC’s Regional Economic Integration agenda and includes the development of bilateral and regional trade agreements.
  • Business Facilitation
    • APEC members pursue measures to reduce the time, cost and uncertainty of doing business in the regionand open new economic opportunities including for small firms, women and youth. 
    • APEC’s Structural Reform agenda supports the development and harmonization of policies that improve market access and efficiency.
  • Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH)
    • ECOTECH builds the technical capacity of APEC’s diverse membersto promote trade, investment that widely benefits the region’s people. 
    • Priorities include strengthening anti-corruption, cross-border education and skills training, emergency preparedness, energy security, environmental protection, defence against pandemics and infrastructure development, among others.

APEC’s functioning

  • In APEC, all economies have an equal say and decision-making is reached by consensus. There are no binding commitments or treaty obligations.
  • Commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis and capacity building projects help members to implement APEC initiatives.
  • Four core committees and their respective working groups provide strategic policy recommendations to APEC Leaders and Ministers who annually set the vision for goals and initiatives.
  • The working groups are given the task to implement these initiatives through a variety of APEC-funded projects.
  • Members also take individual and collective actions to carry out APEC initiatives in their individual economies with the assistance of APEC capacity building projects.

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