Union Minister Piyush Goyal is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the United States today, where US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are also holding their second face-to-face dialogue since Mr Biden took office in 2021 amid tensions and a trust deficit between the two countries.
A meeting between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies and two major military powers would be significant at any time, but it takes on even more significance now with two polarizing wars underway – between Israel and Hamas and between Russia and Ukraine – and relations between the two countries have taken a hit due to the Taiwan issue, trade tensions and sanctions.
APEC founding, membership
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Group, founded in 1989, has 21 members, although India is not one of them. It had applied to join the grouping in 1991, the year in which liberalization was introduced and completely changed the shape and trajectory of the Indian economy. While a majority of members support India’s admission, some have opposed it, pointing to the country’s record on economic reforms and claiming it has “protectionist instincts”.
Another reason why India was not admitted to the grouping was a membership freeze that had been in effect since 1997, but was not extended in 2012.
The grouping’s current members are Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong (referred to as Hong Kong, China on the APEC website), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Canada, the United States, Mexico , Peru, Chile, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). The grouping’s focus is on economies rather than countries, which is why Hong Kong and Taiwan, which China claims as its own, participate separately.
According to a Reuters report, APEC accounts for about 62% of global GDP and almost half of world trade. It works on the basis of non-binding commitments, with decisions being made by consensus and commitments being made on a voluntary basis
Goals this year
This year APEC Economic Leaders’ Week will take place in San Francisco. According to the Reuters report, the US has chosen the theme of “Building a resilient and sustainable future for all” for APEC 2023. The goal is a “connected, innovative and inclusive” region and “to promote a free, fair, and open economic policy agenda that benefits American workers, businesses and families.”
In 2021, APEC members numbered seven of the United States’ top 10 trading partners, and Washington is expected to flex the relative strength of its economy in difficult times – a veiled comparison to the difficulties facing China after years of spectacular growth was.
When US President Joe Biden was asked ahead of the meeting what he expected from his dialogue with Mr Jinping, he said he wanted to “return to a normal course of correspondence; “Be able to pick up the phone and talk to each other.” when there is a crisis; “To be able to ensure that our (military) continue to have contact with each other.”
The other key leaders at the meeting will be Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Russia will be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk.
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