Take Best Advantage of APEC for the Asia Pacific Integration

Ippei Yamazawa
Professor Emeritus, Hitotsubashi University, Japan

This year Indonesian host has tried to highlight the Bogor Goals so that we have been invited to report directly our IAP review study at Committee for Trade and Investment (CTI) Workshop in Medan, ABAC3 in Kyoto, and ASCC in Jakarta, that is all tripartite stakeholders , officials, business, and academics in July. By and large our report was welcomed and mentioned in the recommendation letters by the last two to the APEC Leaders.

For young readers who are not familiar with the Bogor Goals, let me briefly summarize this history of APEC for the past 19 years. In 1994, Indonesian President Soeharto set for APEC a bold target of achieving ‘free and open trade in the Asia Pacific by 2020’. How can we achieve it? Next year’s host Japan invented a unique modality of liberalization via non-binding modality and APEC has implemented it since 1997. It has both merit and demerit. It attracted a global attention to the growth prospect of this region and APEC implemented it quickly under non-binding modality. However, only limited liberalization was delivered, its Asian members directly hit by the currency crisis in 1997-98, and APEC has been marginalized in the middle of mushroomed bilateral and sub-regional FTAs in the 2000s.

At 2010 APEC in Yokohama, APEC Leaders published the mid-term assessment so that APEC had made a progress toward the Bogor Goals but they renewed the commitment by all 21 economies of continuing it toward 2020. On the other hand, they also suggested that TPP and ASEAN plus FTAs proceed in parallel toward the binding FTA in the Asia Pacific beyond 2020. APEC will provide a strong ground base for them.

We have conducted a careful examination of the new IAPs announced in 2012 and an independent academic assessment of how far we have achieved and how much still remain. While officials draft the IAPs and implement them, both ABAC and academics must monitor it closely and encourage officials to move towards the Bogor Goals. We have to read the IAPs, which still remain ‘no easy readings’ for laymen. In stead I recommend them to read their Policy Support Unit Summary Report, a much easier reading of 3~4 pages per each economy. As mentioned above we have had the best opportunity of conveying our message to all APEC stakeholders.

There were still concerns about too high goals mentioned by some academics. However, with only seven years to go now, it is no use of questioning its feasibility but APEC has to continue its efforts toward achieving the Bogor Goals as much as possible. Business and academic stakeholders have to monitor the senior officials’ efforts by reading the IAPs, their PSU summary apart from their originals, and share correct understanding of how far we have come and how much still remain.

In 2020, the final target, we will see TPP, RCEP, and CJK moving in parallel, TPP on a higher track while RCEP and CJK on lower tracks, but all three on the higher ground of liberalization and facilitation thanks to APEC. Then we will discuss how to merge them toward the FTAAP with binding modality, although I myself may not see it at my age.

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