2023 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week: Re-affirming leading position
|APEC 2023 Summit Week will take place in San Francisco, California, from November 11-17. (Source: apec2023sf)
On November 11-17th, the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week took place in San Francisco, California, U.S. What's notable about this annual event?
A busy schedule
First established in Canberra (Australia) in 1989 as an informal dialogue forum to promote regional economic integration, initially, APEC consisted of 12 members. As of now, its members have expanded to 21 economies. It also held up to more than 100 meetings/year. In addition, APEC member economies account for 38% of the global population, (approx. 3 billion people), 62% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and nearly half of global trade.
APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue, with equally respected views of all participating parties. Decisions are made by consensus, while commitments are made on a voluntary basis.
In 2023, the U.S. hosted the event for the 3rd time (the previous two times were in 1993 and 2011). In such context, the country has actively hosted many Ministerial meetings in its major cities. The host country’s priority areas are regional economic issues, including sustainable development, digitalization, women's economic empowerment, energy security, food security and health.
In particular, the APEC 2023 Leaders's Week, with the focus on the 30th Eocnomic Leaders' Meeting, will be the highlight in the coming days. Since November 11, APEC senior officials and Finance Ministers met before the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. Meanwhile, the annual APEC Business Summit (APEC CEO) will take place from November 14-16. It is expected that leaders of the economies will meet on November 17.
Another notable point is the venue. According to the U.S., choosing San Francisco as the venue for this year's APEC Economic Leaders’ Week will reflect the priority of this year's Forum, “Interconnected, Innovative, and Inclusive”.
First, located on the Pacific coast, San Francisco has become an economic and cultural “bridge” connecting the U.S. and Asia, with one-third of its population being Asian Americans.
Second, San Francisco not only has a large GDP (501 billion USD) and the 4th largest economic region in the United States, but it has also been a major economic center in the Asia-Pacific region. Estimated annual two-way trade turnovers between this city and APEC economies have reached 100 billion USD.
Third, San Francisco has diverse and deep connections with APEC through its sister cities, establishment of Consulate General, trade and cultural exchanges.
Finally, San Francisco Bay has been chosen to be headquarters of the world's leading companies, corporations, as well as the “cradle” of the global creative and pioneering industries.
Regarding participants, most of APEC's member economies sent representatives. APEC members include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong - China, Taipei - China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.
Mr. Matt Murray, the U.S. senior official in charge of APEC, confirmed that he had sent an invitation to Russia. However, State Department’s Spokeperson Matthew Miller said he would be “very surprising” if the Russian leader attended this year's Economic Leaders’ Week. According to Professor Maxim Bratersky, an expert at the Russian Higher School of Economics (Russia), the US invitation to Russia’s leader to attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting shows that Washington wants to maintain a certain level of dialogue with Moscow on a number of issues, regarding emerging and concerning issues such as the Taiwan Strait, the Korean Peninsula, etc.
The head of the Taipei - China, Tsai Ing-wen is absent from this year Economic Leaders’ Week. Her presence is likely to be filled by the island’s senior officials or business leaders. In 2022, Mr. Morris Chang, TSMC founder, represented Taipei - China in Thailand. Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region John Lee Ka-chiu will likely be absent.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended at this series of events. At the end of October, a senior U.S. official said it had reached an agreement in principle with China on organizing a summit between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden on the occasion of the APEC.
Focus on economies
Finally, the content of this APEC Leaders' Week focuses on development cooperation. This year's theme is “Creating a resilient, sustainable future for all”, with priorities on “Interconnected”, “Innovative” and Inclusive”. The U.S. seek to “advance a free, fair and open economic policy agenda that benefits American workers, businesses and families”.
This year, the Forum launched a mid-term review of the implementation of the Aotearoa Plan on APEC Vision to 2040. Members report on progress in implementing the Plan on three pillars: trade and investment; innovation; sustainable and inclusive growth.
Last year's APEC specialized Ministerial Conferences also adopted a number of non-binding sets of recommended principles such as the APEC Non-Binding Just Energy Transition Principles; Principles for Achieving Food Security Through Sustainable Agri-food Systems in the APEC Region; Proposal to incorporate sustainability and inclusivity into trade and investment policies; Action Program and Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Framework…
In such context, the APEC Leaders' Week is an opportunity for economic leaders of economies to meet and discuss progress in implementing the Aotearoa Plan, results of APEC specialized ministerial meetings, while setting directions to keep moving forward.
Moreover, this is an opportunity for leaders of member economies to meet and discuss a series of hot issues and current regional and global challenges. Mr. Victor Cha, Senior Vice president for Asia and Korea Chair at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), U.S., said the focus of the discussions are going to be on U.S.-China relations, the Russia-Ukraine and Israel - Hamas conficts. Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting is also an important highlight.
Such agenda not only contributes to consolidating progress in bilateral relations, but also strengthening the role of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week as an opportunity for leaders of economies to meet, exchange, and work together to overcome disagreements, for the future of the region and the world.
With the above points, APEC continues to affirm its position as the leading Asia-Pacific Forum on economic cooperation and integration, taking the lead in multilateral efforts to recover the global economy with sustainable, inclusive and self-sufficient growth.