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Inter-regional diplomacy is alive

By Ioan Voicu - posted Thursday, 3 December 2020

Regional and inter-regional diplomacy tries to attenuate in 2020 the negative consequences of the dangerous decline of global multilateralism. November 2020 offered in this regard a most significant example.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) - a regional economic forum established in 1989 - is again a topic among the top news and comments in mainstream mass-media.

The reasons for this large publicity are explainable by the original fact that the recent November Summit in Kuala Lumpur was the first-ever fully virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM). The personal participation of the presidents of USA, China and Russia has generated a high political and diplomatic visibility to APEC.


APEC's official aim is to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific area by creating greater prosperity for the people of the region, by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

APEC is composed of 21 'economies' and its participants are involved in a cooperative process which is predominantly concerned with trade and economic issues, with all participants acting as economic entities. APEC's 21 economies, with their official names in this forum, 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.

Australia is a founding participant of APEC, is involved in more than 30 APEC sub-forums and hosted APEC in 2007.APEC partners make up more than 70 per cent of Australia's total trade in goods and services.

In practice, APEC facilitates that goods, services, capital and people move easily across borders. In order to achieve that , APEC participants take inter alia measures to ensure faster customs procedures at borders, more favorable business climates and aligning regulations and standards across the area.

Since its establishment in 1989, APEC is functioning as a cooperative, multilateral economic and trade forum. In diplomatic and legal terms, APEC participants are working on the basis of open dialogue and take decisions by consensus without adopting binding commitments or treaty obligations.

The APEC forum has a permanent secretariat based in Singapore.


The substance

The APEC 2020 ended on November 20 with the adoption of two important documents : the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration and the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.As the mass-media focused mostly on protocol aspects of the Summit and less on its substance , the two documents deserve a short analysis of their content without entering into details, but respecting their specific terminology.

The first document, - the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration,- is remarkable by its strong accent on APEC's determination to enable the Asia-Pacific region to successfully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts.

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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