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General Studies 2 >> International Organisations

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1. Context
Chinese President Xi Jinping left for the US  for a “meeting of great importance” with his American counterpart Joe Biden on Wednesday, amidst frosty ties between the two largest global economies. The Biden-Xi bilateral will take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which the US is hosting in San Francisco from November 11 to 17 2023
2. What is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)?

APEC stands for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. It's a forum created in 1989, primarily aimed at promoting economic cooperation and trade among its member nations located in the Asia-Pacific region. The organization comprises 21 member economies, including countries like the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, and others.

APEC's goals revolve around reducing barriers to trade and investment, promoting sustainable economic growth, facilitating economic and technical cooperation, and enhancing the overall prosperity of the region. Member economies use APEC as a platform to discuss and address regional economic issues, foster closer economic ties, and work toward greater integration and collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region

3. Origin and Development of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has its roots in discussions among Pacific Rim countries in the late 1980s. The concept was initially proposed by Australia's Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who suggested creating a forum for economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The first step towards formalizing this idea was taken in 1989 when Australia hosted an informal ministerial meeting called the Ministerial Meeting on Economic Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region in Canberra. This gathering included representatives from 12 economies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States.
  • During this meeting, the groundwork was laid for a more formal organization focused on enhancing economic cooperation and trade in the region. In November 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was officially established with the signing of the Declaration of Common Resolve by its 12 founding member economies.
  • Since its inception, APEC has evolved and expanded both in terms of membership and its focus areas. Over time, more economies joined, increasing the total to 21 member economies. APEC has become a platform for discussing a wide range of economic issues, including trade liberalization, sustainable development, economic and technical cooperation, connectivity, and fostering closer ties among member economies.
  • The organization operates through annual ministerial meetings and leaders' summits, where discussions, negotiations, and agreements take place. APEC's primary goal remains to promote economic growth, trade, and investment across the Asia-Pacific region while addressing various challenges and opportunities in the global economy.

4.Why is India not a part of the APEC grouping?

India's absence from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping is primarily due to several factors, despite its geographical location in the Asia-Pacific region. When APEC was established in 1989, India was not among the founding members

Reasons contribute to India not being part of APEC:

  • At the time of APEC's formation, India's focus was more inward-looking. Its economic policies were centered around self-reliance and were not as oriented toward regional economic integration as some of the other economies that became founding members.
  • India pursued a different economic trajectory, particularly until the early 1990s. It followed policies that were not in line with the trade liberalization and economic openness advocated by APEC during its early years.
  • APEC membership is not automatic based solely on geographical location. The organization has its criteria and a selective approach to expansion. Economies that seek membership must demonstrate a commitment to certain principles, including trade liberalization, economic openness, and other specific criteria that India might not have fully aligned with in the past.
  • India has been actively engaged in other regional groupings like SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and has also sought participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These engagements might have been prioritized over APEC membership due to different geopolitical and economic considerations
5.Why APEC needs India?
  • India is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing economies. Its inclusion in APEC could significantly contribute to the economic dynamism of the region. India's market size, burgeoning middle class, and diverse economy could offer substantial opportunities for trade and investment among APEC member economies
  • India's participation could enhance the regional geopolitical balance within APEC. It could help in diversifying and broadening the perspectives and interests represented within the organization, fostering greater inclusivity and representation of South Asian concerns
  • India's strategic position in the Indian Ocean and its relationship with countries in South and Southeast Asia add a layer of strategic importance to the region. This could contribute to discussions on security, connectivity, and cooperation in the wider Asia-Pacific area.
  • India is known for its advancements in technology and innovation. Its inclusion could bring valuable expertise and collaboration opportunities in areas such as IT, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and other high-tech industries.
  • For APEC members, India's inclusion could offer expanded market access. India's diverse economy spans various sectors, including services, manufacturing, agriculture, and technology, providing new trade opportunities for APEC nations.
  • This is despite the fact that the US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region issued in 2015 states that “The United States welcomes India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as the Indian economy is a dynamic part of the Asian economy.”
6. Way forward
While India's inclusion could be beneficial, it also depends on India's readiness to align its economic policies and priorities with those of APEC. India would need to demonstrate commitment to the principles of open trade, economic integration, and liberalization to facilitate smoother integration within the APEC framework.
For Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
For Mains:  General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting
Previous Year Questions
1.APEC stands for ______ (Delhi Forest Gaurd 2021)
A.Association Pacific Economic Cooperation
B.Association Pacific Economic Community
C.Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
D.Asia-Pacific Economic Community
Answer (C)
Source: Indianexpress

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