Monday, November 14, 2011

APEC and EAS-Whose Interest? by Erick San Juan

It's nice to see and hear nations especially 'factions' among big powers like the U.S. and China having a dialogue with each other during the meeting of world leaders at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Coooperation) in Hawaii recently. This economic conference of nation-states in the Pacific rim is believed by pundits to be all talks, rhetorics and plan but failed to achieve anything since it's birth in 1989.

Despite the call of China's President Hu Jintao that it is important for China and the U.S. to increase their cooperation and U.S. President Barack Obama saying that cooperation between the two countries is vital to their prosperity, both leaders met not to settle things right, not to agree but seems to disagree. In short, there's no meeting of minds.

One example is the "Trans-Pacific Partnership", The U.S. plan to have free trade among member states but the would be economic partnership became a political issue especially when an alliance of nation-states allegedly 'dictated' by the U.S. continue to pressure China to tow the line and stop it's protectionist policy.

China doesn't want to be cowed and accused the U.S. and it's allies of manipulating the rules to their advantage especially in the issue of tariff, trade restrictions,protectionism and currency manipulation.

The U.S.talked about economic integration and liberalization but demands for regulating patents and intellectual property rights. President Barack Obama insisted that China's undervalued currency keep China exports cheaper and the U.S. exports to China more expensive. (Mla. Bulletin, Nov. 14,2011) The two world leaders finished their speeches without addressing their respective concerns.
Nation-states will meet again this week at the 6th East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia. It's composed of 18 Asian nations and India with the United States and Russia as new members. EAS promotes dialogue, cooperation primarily on security-related issues.(Agence France Presse)

According to Pradumna B. Rana of the RSIS, both U.S. and Russia will present both opportunities and challlenges. Rana said that Russia is relatively a peripheral player in the region and it's financial linkages with the rest of EAS countries, although increasing, is still limited.

According to Russian TV through our local Destiny channel, Russia focuses it's attention in taking part in the multilateral regional organizations like the EAS, Apec, Shanghai Initiative, ARF(Asean Regional Forum), DSA( Dialogue on Cooperation in Asia), CICA(Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia), etc. Kremlin will allegedly take an active role to ensure collective partnership in protecting the interests of all country members and strengthen the stability of the region.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that their government adhere to integrate into the political and economic developments in the region but on the regional security and cooperation, Russia will urge the U.S. and restrict Washington in dictating in the region.

The world should be vigilant with this new regional architecture evolving. A checkmate in the offing!

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